Speed Mentoring Event
March 4, 2021

Mentor Biographies

Mai Nguyen is currently the Manager of Government Relation sat Shaw Communications/Freedom Mobile. Prior to joining Shaw she was a Professor of Political Science at York University, a political staffer for several Ministers and has worked in municipal government as a policy advisor.

Nick Colosimo is currently the Associate Director of Government Relations for Advocis, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada. Prior to joining Advocis in 2018, Nick spent nearly a decade as a staffer on Parliament Hill, and subsequently worked in Government Relations for one of Canada's largest P&C insurers and a national allied health association. Nick is passionate about growing the public affairs profession, and has a soft spot for in-house association advocacy.

Stephanie Bellotto is currently the Press Secretary for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Prior to joining the Minister's Office she worked in the Premier's Office in a similar capacity managing intergovernmental affairs. Stephanie has also worked in Public Affairs for Fleishman Hillard High Road and was VP of University Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Elliott Silverstein is Director of Government Relations at CAA Insurance. He is responsible for managing and executing advocacy efforts for CAA Insurance and Orion Travel Insurance across Canada. Since joining CAA. in 2011, Elliott has been actively representing CAA and its members to government and key stakeholders on issues concerning road safety, consumer protection, and motorist-related legislation. Elliott brings a mix of communications, government relations and strategy to CAA's advocacy initiatives. During his time at CAA, he has managed several provincial advocacy campaigns in Ontario with many resulting in legislative and regulatory changes that benefit Ontarians every day. He also serves as a media spokesperson for the organization and has presented at numerous conferences across Canada. He currently teaches Public Affairs in the University of Guelph-Humber’s media and communication studies program.

Gabriela Gonzalez is a Director, Communications and Engagement, with Argyle PR based in Calgary. She has more than 10 years of government and consulting experience, leading communications, advocacy and stakeholder relations in the energy, technology, insurance, and non-profit sectors. She is a currently a PAAC Alberta Director (TBC on Jan 28). She was aboard member with a community legal clinic in Toronto and was the Co-Chair of the Latin American Working Group for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. Gabriela has an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a bilingual Master’s in Public and International Affairs from York University. She speaks English,Spanish and French. When she’s not volunteering or working, she is spending time in the Rocky Mountains with her young family.

Sarah Letersky is currently a Vice-President at Rubicon Strategy, based out of Toronto. Rubicon Strategy is a government relations and digital marketing firm that advises companies and associations in the fields of health care, social services, gaming, cannabis, government procurement, entertainment, energy, and more. Prior to joining Rubicon, Sarah worked in Premier Ford’s government as a Director of Communications at the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, and as a Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.

Claire Prashaw is the Director of Public Affairs at OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans. In leading OPTrust’s external relations, Claire’s responsibilities include managing media relations, government relations, and advocacy efforts, in addition to managing outreach for OPTrust Select, a pension plan for Ontario’s nonprofit sector. Claire brings over a decade of experience in public policy, advocacy, international development, and government and stakeholder relations. Previously, Claire workedi n International Development in Latin America, and at Queen’s Park as a Policy a nd Legislative Advisor for a Member of Provincial Parliament. She also served in a stakeholder relations role for the late Hon. Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition. Claire holds an Honours B.A. from Trent University, a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) from York University, and a post graduate certificate in Public Relations from the University of Toronto. She is currently studying Strategic Management at Harvard Business School.

Alex Chreston is a senior consultant with Crestview Strategy working out of the Toronto Office. He has extensive experience in strategic planning and communications and has a track-record of mobilizing people to get results. Prior to joining the Crestview team, Alex served as a Senior Advisor to Toronto Mayor John Tory focusing on communications and events. He also spent a decade working at Queens Park where he served as a senior aide in the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition under both John Tory and Tim Hudak. Additionally, Alex has worked in strategic planning and execution on campaign teams for multiple provincial and local elections. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in Political Science, History and Canadian Studies.

Avi Lipsitz is a senior policy advisor in Ontario's Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. Prior to joining the OPS, Avi specialized in provincial government relations at Alectra Utilities Corp., Ontario's largest municipal electric utility, preceded by a variety of policy and GR roles at the Ontario Energy Association, representing Ontario's large electricity and natural gas utilities. In between his various positions in the energy industry, Avi received an MA from the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto, where his research focused on citizenship policy in western Europe.

Nabila Alibhai is a Policy Advisor and Government Relations Specialist Alectra Utilities, Canada's largest municipally-owned local electricity distributor. She works to align the energy goals of the government with those of 1.1 million customers across 17 communities in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe. She came to communications after serving as Advisor to Alectra's Vice-President of Conservation & Demand Management. Previously, Nabila managed her own consulting practice in the green economy sector, and has worked in the Federal Public Service.

A.J. Nichols is the Director, Corporate Affairs for Vale's Base Metals Business, Headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Previously he served as the Chief Representative of Vale's Beijing office and General Manager for Corporate Affairs. He leads Vale's China Corporate Affairs team in the strategic planning, deployment and management of national as well as regional and international affairs issues, policy and regulatory matters, as well as stakeholder relations with governments, non-government entities and the international community throughout the region.Prior to moving to Beijing in July 2014, A.J. served as the inaugural Head of Corporate Affairs in the Asia-Pacific region for Vale S.A based in Singapore as well as Director of International Relations and Corporate Affairs for Vale's Base Metals business from 2007-2012.

Paul Yeung is the Director of Public Affairs for JTI-Macdonald Corporation and a Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Centre's Canada Institute.

Previously, he has held Senior Government Relations positions at Phillip Morris International and the Royal Bank of Canada, responsible for the nationwide approach to provincial government relations;
providing strategic, risk and issues management, policy direction, and communications advice. Prior to joining RBC, Paul was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Finance, in the province of Ontario.

Paul completed his undergraduate studies in History at Wilfrid Laurier University (1996) and obtained his M.A. in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced
International Studies (2002) in Bologna, Italy, and Washington, D.C.