Vancouver Island Leadership Conference 2023

Leaders of Change

March 31st & April 1st, 2023 — Nanaimo, BC

Apply for Sponsored Seat

Conference Theme

The Vancouver Island Leadership Conference (VILC) hosts post-secondary students across British Columbia for an event of keynotes and strength building workshops to inspire future leaders. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Leaders of Change’ which will work to engage delegates to build a connection with inclusion, integrity, and innovation through keynotes, speakers, and excursions.

This year the VILC 2023 Organizing Committee has 125 seats available at a value of $125 per participant. Be sure to register as soon as possible to secure your seat at the conference. Limited sponsored seats are available on a first come first serve basis.


Friday, March 31st
Saturday, April 1st


6:00pm - 9:00pm
9:00am - 10:00pm


Port Theatre
VIU + Coast Bastion Hotel

Our Keynote Speakers

CEO, YMCA-YWCA Vancouver Island

Derek Gent

Derek Gent has served as CEO for the local YMCA / YWCA since 2019. The Y has been around for almost 150 years on the Island and currently operates recreation centres, childcare facilities, social housing for young mothers and for independent youth, a 1200 acre wilderness site at Camp Thunderbird and a range of programs delivered across the region. Prior to the Y Derek was CEO at the Community Foundation associated with Vancity Credit Union and worked for many years in impact investing through Vancity’s Venture Capital division and at Coast Capital Savings. He started his career working in microcredit in Bangladesh after completing an MBA at Queen’s University, and he grew up in Edmonton. Derek has taught a number of courses at the University level, and volunteered on many nonprofit Boards, including Imagine Canada, Aga Khan Foundation, Cooperators Group, New Market Funds, the Loran Scholarship, and Victoria’s Rent Bank.

BSc, MD, CCFP, Revive Medical

Zaakir Jiwa

Dr. Zaakir Jiwa (BScKin, MD, CCFP) like his brother, also attended St. George’s School before moving to Montreal to complete his Bachelor’s of Kinesiology at McGill University. He is a graduate of The University of British Columbia’s Medical School and University of Toronto’s Family Medicine Residency Program at St. Michael’s Hospital.Over the course of his training, he has cared for a variety of patients, specifically those in underserviced areas. He pursued many clinical electives in Physiatry and Chronic Pain at the Toronto Rehab Institute and Bridgepoint Hospital. From his time at various Sports Medicine Clinics, Dr. Jiwa also has a wide range of experience in preventative health, motivational interviewing, and injectable injury related treatments. Dr. Jiwa is a sports fanatic and enjoys playing and watching all sports but especially soccer (make sure not to bother him during a Manchester United game). Beyond the clinic, he is passionate about helping young students succeed and is the founder of two education consulting initiatives, MD Exam Prep and The Transition. Dr. Jiwa has a passion for anti-aging medicine and is a huge advocate for collaborative care. As such, he was an integral part of bringing COAST to our space, allowing physiotherapists to work alongside physicians, pharmacists, and rehabilitation specialists.

AVP External Relations, SFU

Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan

Born in Malaysia, Sobhana grew up in India and immigrated to Canada in 1995. She has a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and a Masters’ degree in Social Work. She worked in a minimum wage job before joining the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) as Child Protection Social Worker. She was in the BC Public Service for nearly two decades, and worked in frontline and senior management positions. In 2015, Sobhana returned to India and worked as global Head of HR. In 2017, Sobhana joined Simon Fraser University as Associate Vice President of External Relations. She is also an Adjunct Professor with SFU's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.Sobhana mentors youth, young professionals and newcomers and is very involved in pro bono work in Canada and India and supports many organizations in both countries including as: President, BC-India Business Network; Director, Burnaby Board of Trade; Cabinet Member, United Way of British Columbia; Advisor, Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival; Advisor, Global Emerging Leadership Programs; Advisor, The Inclusion Project, Advisor, The National Federation of Blind (Maharashtra, India) and Chief Impact Officer, HashHackCode (Chennai, India). Sobhana has been nominated for the BC Medal of Good Citizenship award and for this year's Top 25 Immigrant Awards. She has received the Woman of the Decade Award (Education) and Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All Award from the Women’s Economic Forum and the Inclusion Champion Award from The National Federation of Blind (Maharashtra, India). Sobhana has dedicated her life to community service and often says, "My longest love affair has been with volunteering."! A big motivation for her has always been her two sons - Prabhanj and Niranj, and she hopes they will look back at life one day and say, "Mom, you had a positive impact on us."

Power Speakers

Integrity Speaker

Cynthia Lange

Cynthia Lange is a systems change professional whose passion and strength is in facilitating continuous incremental inclusion across systems of people with compassionate efficiency. Over the past 19 years, she has worked throughout the academic-career pipeline (K-12 education, university, industry) in the U.S. and Canada, from IT to education and immigrant advising to EDI, always with a focus and curiosity on making systems - whether universities, organizations or families - more inclusive and welcoming spaces. Cynthia is the Founder of Legacy of Connection, an EDI consultancy whose purpose is empowering Individuals of Global Majority to live, learn, parent, and work in alignment with their authentic Selves; and guiding organizations to take courageous action to become truly inclusive spaces.

Innovation Speaker
Success Coach & Podcast Host

Lisa Michaud

Lisa Michaud is a recovering over-achieving, people-pleasing, perfectionist. Just kidding: she’s still all of those things. At the age of 27, she faced the reality she may only have one or two years left to live, and with that wake-up call, she decided to get out of her own way and make the most of the time she had left. Her mission? To inspire you to stop waiting until you’re “ready,” “the right time”, or “one day”. Lisa helps women around the world uncover and get over their fears so they too can live the life they want to be living if they only had a year or two left to live. Lisa is an International Success Coach, Speaker, Host of Goalden Girls Podcast, Real Estate Investor and creator of the 100 Day Goal Getter Planner + Journal and spends her days chasing both toddlers and big dreams in Vancouver.

Inclusion Speaker
Ambassador, Sage Initiative

Dominic Paul

Dominic is the National Ambassador, and Moose Hide Pin Operations Manager for the Moose Hide Campaign and a Representative of the Sage Initiative. Dominic is Father to his 2 daughters Cedar Sus (4-year-old) and Chas Yaz (almost 1 year old). He is a member of the WSANEC communities which are located on southern Vancouver Island. Dominic hopes to include the need for men and boys in the fight to end violence toward women and children.

Co-Curricular Talks Speakers

MBA Candidate, University Canada West

Sumaiyah Nausheen

Nausheen is an IIBA-certified business analyst passionate about problem-solving. She is interested in questions about the environment, sustainability, social impact, and climate change. Her greatest joy and satisfaction come from helping individuals by generating genuine value and making a real difference in their lives. Throughout her career, she has held various positions in analytics, change management, strategy, and people management. In her spare time, she likes to go for long walks, read, or work in the garden. She is currently training to run her first 10K Marathon. Reach out to her if you want to talk about mental health, developing sustainable solutions, or social entrepreneurship!

MBA Candidate, Vancouver Island University

Sofie Gregory

Growing up in beautiful British Columbia, Sofie recognises the importance of leading an active, healthy lifestyle however also understands that barriers to programs and spaces can limit accessibility. Sofie has been involved in a variety of sports as an athlete, coach, and administrator on all levels and in varying capacities and is an active member of the Coaching Association of Canada with specific training in diversity and inclusion in sport. Incorporating her background of sport management, business administration and personal experiences, she is focused on building a positive active living experience for individuals with varying levels of ability.

Human Resource Management, SFU

Sehar Nayani

Sehar Nayani is the daughter of Yasmin and Firdous Nayani. She was born and brought up in Karachi, Pakistan. She is a proud and humble member of a global community called the The Shia Ismaili community, also known as the Aga Khan community. She moved to Canada in 2015 and joined the MEd (master’s in educational leadership Program) at VIU. She began her journey in hope of being a teacher to young students in an education sector in Canada after my completing my masters, but her journey led her to discover the passion of facilitation in different capacities and today. Sehar works as Development Coach in a corporate environment and has been working as a Human Resource Manager at a firm who specializes in planning and implementation for Indigenous communities and their governments. Last year, she decided to go back to her educational journey and enrolled to Human Resource Management program for continuing education at the Simon Fraser University.

Conference Schedule

Day 1

March 31st — Port Theatre
  1. 5:30pm - 6:30pm

    Networking & Registration

    Check-in, Registration and Networking

  2. 6:30pm - 6:45pm

    Introductions & Formal Welcoming

    Our opening ceremony will include a Traditional Welcome by a VIU Elder and introductions from our VILC hosts.

  3. 6:45pm – 7:15pm

    Keynote Speaker

    Derek Gent - CEO, YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island

  4. 7:15pm – 7:25pm


  5. Power Presenters
    7:25pm - 8:00pm
  6. Inclusion Speaker

    Dominic Paul - Ambassador, Sage Initiative

  7. Integrity Speaker

    Cynthia Lange - EDI Consultant, Legacy of Connection

  8. Innovation Speaker

    Lisa Michaud - Success Coach & Podcast Host

  9. 8:00pm - 8:15pm

    Closing Remarks

    Closing remarks from VILC hosts.

Day 2

April 1st — VIU Nanaimo Campus + Coast Bastion Hotel
  1. 8:15am - 9:00am

    Check In

    Coffee, tea, and light refreshments available. VIU Nanaimo Campus - Windsor Plywood Trades Discovery Centre Building 108

  2. 9:00am - 9:15am


    Introductions from our VILC hosts and a run-through of the Day 2 schedule.

  3. 9:15am - 9:45am

    Keynote Speaker

    Dr. Zaakir Jiwa - BSc, MD, CCFP, Revive Medical

  4. Wellness Break
    9:45am - 10:00am
  5. 10:00am - 1:00pm


    Discover the various career opportunities on Vancouver Island and kickstart your career search.

    • Workshop A: Legacy of Connection
      Shq'apthut (The Gathering Place)

    • Workshop B: Canucks Autism Network
      Building 210 Room 275

  6. 1:00pm - 2:30pm

    Career Expo

    Discover the various career opportunities on Vancouver Island and kickstart your career search. VIU Nanaimo Campus - Windsor Plywood Trades Discovery Centre Building 108

  7. 2:30pm - 4:30pm

    Co-Curricular Excursions

    Experience a unique excursion related to the conference sub-themes. Lunch will be provided. In partnership with:

    • City of Nanaimo

    • Risebridge WARMREACH

    • Vancouver Island University

  8. Transportation to Campus + Break
    4:30pm - 6:30pm
  9. 6:30pm - 7:30pm

    Gala Doors Open

    Networking opportunity. Gala has a formal/business casual dress code. VILC hosts will provide evening opening remarks. Coast Bastion Hotel.

  10. 7:30pm - 8:15pm

    Keynote Speaker

    Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan - Associate Vice President, External Relations, Simon Fraser University

  11. 8:15pm - 9:00pm

    Gala Dinner + Performance

    Multi-course dinner will be provided. Beverages available for purchase.

  12. 9:00pm - 9:30pm

    CCR Speakers

    Students and alumni present Co-Curricular Record talks related to their experiences and the conference sub-themes.

  13. 9:30

    Closing Remarks + Dance

    VILC hosts will provide closing remarks, live DJ and beverages available for purchase.

Conference Sub-Themes

Our Conference sub-themes of Inclusion, Integrity, and Innovation will each include a Connection Speaker, CCR Speaker as well as an interactive excursion.

Co-Curricular Excursions

Invasive Species Management

The Recreation Coordinator from the City of Nanaimo Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture, Amanda Daly, will facilitate an invasive species removal at Barsby Park. This is an opportunity to help Nanaimo’s ecosystem and give back to the environment.

Community Clean Up

The City of Nanaimo has helped to organize a littler clean-up in one of Nanaimo’s most frequented natural areas, Bowen Park (at the West Field). This sport/recreation location contains groomed baseball and soccer fields, surrounded by forest and the Millstone River. This excursion is an opportunity to support Nanaimo’s ecosystem and give back to the environment.

WARMREACH Season-End Wrap Up

The staff from a local non-profit organization, Risebridge Nanaimo, will be facilitating an excursion and educating us on how to give back to at-risk communities. The excursion includes cleanup of the WARMREACH facility, such as maintenance, tidying, and gardening.

Garry Oak Plot Restoration

Ecological Restoration Assistants Hunter Jarratt and Megan Kollman will facilitate an excursion on the Garry Oak Restoration Plot. These tasks include plant identification, invasive plant control, and boundary upkeep. Special thanks to Vancouver Island University Professor, Dr. Caroline Josefsson for her guidance in allowing this excursion to happen.

Countdown to VILC 2023

Last year our tickets sold fast so don’t miss out. Conference will start in


Career Expo

The VILC Career Expo will provide students with the opportunity to explore different career paths through various booths and provide an opportunity for delegates to connect with employers. This career expo provides a platform for your organization to connect with local talent and to promote awareness of your organization and brand.

Want your business to be featured at the VILC career expo?

For profit organizations: $100 plus tax per booth
Non-profit organizations: are $50 plus tax per booth
Sponsor a Student Option: $125 plus tax per booth

This option provides you with a preferred booth at the Career Expo as well as sponsoring a student that will receive a company branded name tag of your organization. All sponsored seats are aimed to reduce financial barriers for students, and we appreciate your consideration, if this option is available for your organization.

Register Your Booth Today
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Our Sponsors

Thank you so much to our community partners, without you this event would not be possible.