Pembina Institute

Pembina Speakers Bureau

Ed Whittingham, Pembina Executive Director

Pembina Institute staff engage in a wide array of speaking opportunities. From our broadly knowledgeable and entertaining executive director, Ed Whittingham, to experts in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change, oilsands, liquified natural gas and transportation, the Pembina Institute can provide keynote speakers for events or experts for small format presentations to companies, government or the public.

Rates for senior staff are generally $2,000 to $2,500 plus expenses. We offer special rates for not-for-profits.

To book a speaker, call Lynne at (604) 874-8558 ext. 226, or send her an email Lynne Whenham.

Featured Speakers

Ed Whittingham, Executive Director

Ed Whittingham

National energy strategy • corporate sustainability and best practices • oilsands impacts • collaboration • sustainable energy policies • renewable energy • climate change strategies

Bio - Ed Whittingham

Ed Whittingham is the personable and engaging executive director of the Pembina Institute, a sustainable energy think tank with 55 employees working on renewable energy, climate change, oilsands and transportation in Canada.

Whittingham wants to see sustainable energy solutions become the cornerstone of our energy supply and economy. As he puts it: "The way we produce and consume energy has a real bearing on the mark we leave on the environment."

Whittingham serves in an advisory capacity to companies, industry associations, government bodies and research networks on sustainable energy solutions. He regularly speaks to Canadian and American audiences on climate change, corporate sustainability, energy strategy and oilsands issues. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Calgary, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and The Banff Centre.

On first blush, Whittingham hardly seems to fit the environmentalist stereotype, but his colorful and engaging speaking style is recognized and appreciated. In workshops, his ice-breaking sessions are legendary, perhaps a nod to his roots in theatre.


Whittingham is a driving force behind Pembina's pragmatic, research and solutions-oriented approach. He previously headed up the corporate consulting program that advises Canadian companies, governments, political leaders and NGOs on sustainable energy strategies and management practices.

Ed specializes in greenhouse gas management strategies, best practices for stakeholder engagement, and cross-sector collaboration for sustainable energy policy initiatives.

He led Pembina's consulting work on corporate sustainability, strategic planning and climate change. The consulting group also worked on Life Cycle Value Assessments, renewable energy, technology assessment, policy analyses, training, and workshop design and facilitation.

He previously managed UTSB Research, a Banff-based conservation group. The organization reported to Canadian parliamentary committees, spearheaded environmental litigation and led numerous policy research projects.

Whittingham holds an International MBA from York University's Schulich School of Business, where he studied as a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada scholar.

Whittingham specialized in corporate sustainability and international business during his graduate studies. His interest in international issues began when he spent a year in Japan as part of the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program doing market research for the United Nations Environment Programme.

Memberships, Committees and Director Positions

  • Member, Leadership Council, Research Network for Business Sustainability (present)
  • Member Representative, New Directions Group (present)
  • Instructor, "The Policy and Regulatory Aspects of CCS," Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (present)
  • Researcher and Member, Energy Framework Initiative, CAPP/CGI/CEPA/CPPI (2009)
  • Chair, Oversight Committee, Incorporating Climate Change Adaptation into Business Strategy project, Research Network for Business Sustainability (2008-2009)
  • Member, Oversight Committee, Best Practices in Community Engagement project, Research Network for Business Sustainability (2007-2008)

To book Ed Whittingham for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Cherise Burda, Regional Director, Ontario

Cherise Burda

Ontario renewable energy policy • sustainable transportation • sustainable urban design • electric vehicles • alternative transportation and transit solutions

Bio – Cherise Burda

Cherise Burda

Born and raised in the 905 region of Greater Toronto, Cherise Burda is intimately familiar with the transportation and urban sprawl issues facing Ontario's biggest city. After all, it's here that roads and highways are more congested than anywhere else in North America and drivers endure the longest commutes.

 "I live and breathe the problems that urban sprawl has created in Toronto and so I am compelled to work on these issues," explains Cherise.

As the Pembina Institute's regional director of Ontario, Cherise works in an advisory capacity to government bodies and research networks, researching, analyzing and providing implementation strategies for sustainable energy policies in Ontario, including transportation and urban design and development.

Cherise provides the perfect combination of personal engagement and professional experience to make her speaking style both entertaining and instructive, while her training in education helps her turn complicated policy information into accessible, constructive content for a variety of audiences.

"Solutions to Ontario's transportation problems include everything from making our vehicles and fuel sources cleaner and reducing the amount of driving that people need to do, to investing in better transit systems across the province," says Cherise.

"Our cites need to be designed in a way that reduces our reliance on the automobile. Ontarians are spending far too much time stuck in traffic and it's affecting their quality of life — from long daily commutes to breathing unhealthy air."

When Cherise is not working on big city sustainability issues: "I love to take my dog for long hikes in beautiful places."


  • Cherise is the lead author to a number of transportation solutions reports, including Driving Down Carbon and Bridging the Gulf, and has worked tirelessly to promote renewable and clean energy development in Ontario, including coordinating the Renewable is Doable campaign, authoring Plugging Ontario Into A Green Future and playing a supporting role in securing the Ontario Green Energy Act.
  • Cherise has authored or co-authored numerous reports and publications for Pembina; click here for a list.
  • She has more than 15 years of experience researching, analyzing and advising on environmental policy in Canada including six years as program director for David Suzuki Foundation and three years at the University of Victoria's faculty of law. She also sat on the B.C. Forest Stewardship Council steering committee for two years.
  • Cherise has presented at dozens of international, national and regional conferences and events, community labour meetings and university courses.
  • She holds bachelor's degrees in both environmental science and English, as well as an education degree and a master's in environmental legislation and policy.

To book Cherise Burda for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Penelope Comette, Co-Director, National Consulting and Projects

Penelope Comette

corporate sustainability • embedding sustainability in corporate culture • change management • ethical finance • reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Bio – Penelope Comette

Penelope Comette

Penelope Comette is an experienced management consultant with a passion for sustainability and over 10 years of experience managing projects and developing strategies for a wide range of industries including insurance, high tech and health care. Her expertise lies in managing and mentoring project teams, change management, and strategic development.

But for Penelope, helping companies improve their bottom line wasn't enough. A few years ago she hired a personal coach and carried out extensive research and decided to use her skills to help companies pursue sustainability, or social, environmental and economic goals at the same time.

"I work with companies to lower their impact on the environment and help make sure they are wearing a more sustainable hat," says Penelope.

"Companies exist to make a profit and so good solutions must appreciate that context. So it's trying to look at what their strategic priorities are and leverage social and environmental actions or policies to help them forward their business."

Penelope enjoys working with a range of different clients, from large to small, and in different areas across Canada. "I like working with people who want to make a difference, who are also on that same committed path. I also like working with great people, which I get to do at Pembina," says Penelope.

Penelope holds an MBA (in marketing and finance) from the University of British Columbia, BA (Honours) in political science from the University of Western Ontario and has her Six Sigma green belt from PriceWaterhouse Coopers LLP.

Penelope enjoys speaking about changing corporate culture and ethical finance and the integration of sustainability into a company's formula for success.

In her personal life, Penelope is a mother of two, who like so many other parents, helps sell Brownie cookies to help support her childrens' programs. Penelope also enjoys skiing and hiking in the local mountains around Vancouver.


  • Penelope was an Associate of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility where she carried out corporate consulting on sustainability including community investment strategies, greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and reduction strategies, stakeholder engagement strategies, corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainable development (SD) strategies and target development, CSR performance assessments, CSR reporting strategies and assessments, and co-hosted work shops on sustainability leadership and socially responsible investment.
  • Her management consulting experience with large companies includes work with Dell Ventures, Vancouver Coastal Health, Manulife, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Toyota Credit Canada Inc, Famous Players, The Bechtel Group, and many other financial organizations.
  • She is certified in the AA1000 stakeholder engagement standard and has worked on embedding best practice stakeholder engagement.
  • Penelope holds a Six Sigma Green Belt (a methodology for achieving quality management and continuous improvement).

To book Penelope Comette for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Simon Dyer, Regional Director, Alberta and the North

Simon Dyer

oilsands • shale gas • energy and land management • climate policy on the oil patch • wildlife • conservation issues

Bio - Simon Dyer

Simon Dyer was attracted to Pembina for one simple reason: "energy and how we get energy to meet our needs sustainably is the fundamental issue of our time."

An interest in natural resource management issues and Alberta's incredible natural landscapes are two key reasons why Simon, with his British roots, settled in Alberta.

"I live in Alberta where energy issues are always front and centre," says Simon. He is the former director of the Pembina Institute's oilsands program where he wrote reports, managed the oilsands research and policy advocacy program, and spoke extensively about the need for responsible oilsands development and for improved policy to reduce environmental impacts.

But Simon's passion is for the land and wildlife. He lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with his wife Arin and likes nothing better than backpacking, hiking, hunting and exploring the outdoors with his young family.

As a registered professional biologist Simon has worked on natural resource management issues in western Canada since 1999.

Simon is an engaging and knowledgeable speaker. He's done a lot of public speaking, media interviews and presentations about the environmental implications of the oilsands. He likes nothing better than an in-depth discussion or debate on the issues.


  • Simon is author or co-author of more than 30 reports on oilsands impacts and responsible oilsands development; click here for a complete list.
  • He speaks at university conferences, industry conferences, to government delegations and to the media.
  • Simon is a director of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI).
  • He has supplied expert witness testimony on oilsands impacts at the Imperial Kearl Lake and the Total Joslyn oilsands hearings, and to the federal parliamentary hearings on energy security and water use in the oilsands.
  • Simon holds a master's in environmental biology and ecology from the University of Alberta and a master's in natural sciences from the University of Cambridge.

To book Simon Dyer for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Jennifer Grant, Associate Regional Director, Alberta and the North

Jennifer Grant

oilsands • cumulative impacts • solutions for oilsands • reclamation & tailings • environmental monitoring

Bio - Jennifer Grant

Jennifer Grant

Jennifer Grant is the Pembina Institute's associate regional director for Alberta and the North, and former director of the Institute's oilsands program. From analyzing the impacts of in situ development and tailings ponds to reclamation and monitoring efforts, Jennifer directs a team of engineers and policy analysts in researching and reporting on the ecological impacts of oilsands, as well as potential solutions.

Engagement with a variety of groups on the environmental impacts of oilsands has given Jennifer the experience required to translate some of the highly scientific, technical and political language inherent in oilsands development.

She has been a spokesperson on the oilsands for the Institute for more than five years, responding regularly to media interview requests and making appearances at a variety of conferences, workshops and other events, including First Nation assemblies and gatherings.

"I live in the Rockies and this is where I recharge my batteries. For me, this work is about giving back to the natural environment — that's what keeps me inspired," says Jen.


  • Jen speaks regularly to the media and at conferences and workshops.
  • She has worked on oilsands issues since 2006 including two years spent in Canada's North, downstream of the oilsands.
  • Jen is the author or co-author of more than 15 reportson the environmental impacts of oilsands development, including:
  • Prior to joining the Pembina Institute, Jen worked as a biologist, facilitator and educator for both government and non-government organizations.
  • She holds a Master of Science in ecosystem management from the University of Calgary and a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences with distinction from the University of Victoria.

To book Jennifer Grant for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Matt Horne, Associate Regional Director, British Columbia

Matt Horne

climate change policy (federal and provincial) • carbon pricing and taxes • B.C. energy policy • cap-and-trade • Liquified Natural Gas

Bio - Matt Horne

Matt Horne

Matt Horne is<span > an engineer and after working for years on technical solutions, he decided he wanted to shift gears to apply his problem solving skills to the big challenges in the world. That's where the Pembina Institute came in.

"I work on getting better climate change policy in Canada. We work with businesses and communities to share perspectives and figure out solutions we can collectively support," explains Matt.

Matt's been on the front lines of the climate change issue in B.C. for a number of years, but he's also had plenty of experience working on sustainable energy solutions on the ground. He's worked with 10 First Nations communities on community energy planning projects. One, the Douglas First Nation, no longer relies on diesel generators and is supplying electricity to the grid from the run-of-river hydro projects they've helped to develop.

Prior to joining the Institute, Matt worked extensively with energy-economy models on projects attempting to estimate the costs and benefits of climate change policy in Canada.

Matt has also worked with local governments in B.C., including Dawson Creek, Hudson's Hope and Bowen Island, mostly on greening their fleets and facilities and developing green building policies.

After hours you will find Matt "hanging out with my daughter and my partner — and right now that means a lot of trips to the playground," he says.


  • Matt is co-author of Recommendations for Quebec's draft cap-and-trade regulations, a review of Quebec's efforts to put a price on carbon, with concerns noted about effectiveness, fairness, and transparency.
  • He is author of Shale gas in British Columbia: Risks to B.C.'s climate action objectives, which provides an overview of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by British Columbia's natural gas sector.
  • His report Measuring the appetite for climate action in British Columbia described poll results showing that British Columbians support carbon taxes and are confident that taking action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution will help grow, or have little or no impact on, the provincial economy.
  • Matt is the author or co-author of a number of other Pembina reports; click here for a complete list.
  • He sat on B.C. provincial government's green energy advisory task force, and on energy planning committees for BC Hydro and FortisBC.
  • Matt has given numerous presentations to B.C.'s budget committee, mostly on carbon taxes and ways of using the revenue.
  • Matt holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Dalhousie University and a Master of Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.

To book Matt Horne for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Josha MacNab, Regional Director, British Columbia

Josha MacNab

sustainable community development • energy efficiency and renewable energy • climate policy for communities • federal and provincial policy implications • Green Building Leaders • community-based environmental advocacy

Bio - Josha MacNab

Josha MacNab

To some, "climate change" is a big, complicated issue that seems hard to solve. To Josha MacNab it's all about thinking locally and coming up with new and innovative solutions to engage communities in saving energy, producing clean energy and reducing emissions.

As the the Pembina Institute's regional director for British Columbia, Josha works to help local governments and communities understand emissions, green their buildings and develop energy plans that help them reduce emissions and energy use.

"Municipalities are often miles ahead of provincial and federal governments on issues of sustainability and are able to implement the types of solutions that result in real changes long before a province, or the federal government," says Josha.

With this in mind Josha helped develop the Green Building Leaders project: a coalition of forward-thinking communities that share ideas with each other and the province of British Columbia to advocate for policies that dramatically reduce energy use and emissions from buildings.

To Josha sustainability means more then reducing reliance on fossil fuels: "One of the words I like to use instead of sustainability is healthy," she says. "We think of sustainable communities as places where the air is clean, the water is fresh, there are plenty of opportunities for recreation, necessities are within walking distance, buildings use energy efficiently, people have healthy working environments and the economy is strong and resilient to future changes."

Josha has worked with many communities including Dawson Creek, B.C. a city that has created a community energy plan, invested in local renewable energy production, developed a vehicle purchasing plan and even crafted a Planning for People website for its residents to learn about living sustainably.

In her spare time Josha is learning to fly on the trapeze. "My partner Sam grew up in Montreal and in Quebec, where Cirque du Soleil comes from, and it's pretty common for people there to take circus lessons. It turns out there were lessons offered five minutes from our house in Vancouver, so that's what we're doing!"


  • Josha is co-author of Green Economy Series of fact sheets, including The Business of Climate Change, Putting a Price on Climate Pollution and Walking the Green Talk.
  • Josha has published many client reports assessing various aspects of sustainability in communities. She has also published numerous public fact sheets and reports: click to see a list.
  • She is currently coordinator of the Green Building Leaders project, working with B.C. communities to improve energy performance standards and renewable energy requirements for buildings.
  • Josha is an expert on energy and policy planning for communities and has worked with many communities to help them understand where they are using energy, the climate change impacts of that use and how they can plan to reduce energy use.
  • Her early career experience in environmental education coupled with her on-the-ground experience helping communities wrestle with sustainability has helped Josha become an engaging speaker with practical experience behind her.
  • Josha holds two bachelor's degrees, one in history and another in environmental education, as well as a Master of Resource Management from Simon Fraser University.

To book Josha MacNab for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Chris Severson-Baker, Managing Director

Chris Severson-Baker

ENGO perspectives on carbon capture and storage (CCS) • consensus-based negotiation • oil and gas flaring and venting • impact of using coal to make electricity • stakeholder engagement in energy issues • oilsands

Bio - Chris Severson-Baker

Chris Severson-Baker

Chris Severson-Baker is the Pembina Institute's invisible hand. He's spent 16 years helping define and create the Pembina Institute of today.

Today he is managing director, essentially the chief operating officer of the Pembina Institute, responsible for 55 staff and the financial health and strategic success of the organization.

More than a respected senior manager, Chris knows his stuff. He has written or co-written dozens of reports on the constant improvement of standards in the oil and gas, oilsands and electricity generation industries.

He excels at diving into complicated, messy situations where he consistently brings an insightful, level-headed, high-integrity approach to the table.

"I feel like climate change and the key sustainability challenges we currently face are putting the planet and people directly in danger — it's pretty serious stuff. It's something I want to focus my career on, trying to avert negative outcomes," explains Chris.

"Working for Pembina is the best way I can conceive of to make a contribution. As an individual you can have a bigger impact on these issues working for Pembina than working for industry or government — so I work for Pembina," says Chris.

His focus since joining the Institute in 1996 has been on reducing the health and environmental impacts of oil and gas, the oilsands and power generation in Alberta.

When the work week winds down "I like to spend time on a small piece of land outside of Calgary in the country. I enjoy spending time with my family out there and I always like having a good movie or book on the go." His latest recreational book: A Song of Ice and Fire series by George Martin.


To book Chris Severson-Baker for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Jason Switzer, Co-Director, National Consulting and Projects

Jason Switzer

corporate sustainability • greenhouse gas compliance • business/NGO partnering • conflict sensitive business practices

Bio - Jason Switzer

Jason Switzer

Jason Switzer joined the Pembina Institute in April 2011, after over a decade in international development and corporate environmental management.

He is convinced that the Canadian oil and gas sector could become the global leader in sustainability, an opportunity for lasting competitive advantage. 

"Environment has traditionally been a cost for business. But when you start looking at process design from an environmental perspective, you can often identify win-win opportunities that reduce your footprint and save you money as well," explains Jason. "That was certainly my experience at Shell and Cenovus. What Pembina has that is unique — what distinguishes us from consulting companies generally — is our unique process for uncovering those money-making opportunities. And our ability to tap upon the global thought leaders to help us in doing so."

Jason's experience researching and then working for global energy companies makes him just the right guy to understand how to help companies on the journey towards sustainability.

"Pembina benchmarks, we provide strategic advice on environmental risks and social performance expectations, and we convene difficult dialogues, with the aim of raising everyone's game," says Jason. "Anyone can throw rocks. We are in the solutions business. And if we see someone out there doing something innovative, we want to cheer you on and show others how you made it happen."

"A good example is the work we are doing with a group of renewable energy leaders from business, academia and advocacy — we're helping them find agreement on a positive agenda of actions that government can undertake to reduce the barriers for successful renewable energy projects in Canada."


  • Jason co-wrote a book entitled Conserving the Peace, a series of case studies on links between environmental degradation, conflict and disaster.
  • He also co-wrote Conflict Sensitive Business Practices Toolkit, a compendium of management tools for dealing with social conflict associated with business investment in fragile states.
  • He is a member of the Secretariat for the World Commission on Dams, an international review of large dams and their implications for human development.
  • While at Shell, Jason helped develop one of the world's largest avoided deforestation carbon offset projects, in Indonesia.
  • Jason combined a master's degree in environmental engineering and another in public policy, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research there focused on the use of ISO 14001 environmental management systems and third party certification to drive changes in performance and culture in leading companies.

To book Jason Switzer for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.

Clare Demerse, Director, Federal Policy / Directrice, Politiques fédérales

Clare Demerse

climate policy • climate change (general) • federal energy policy • carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems • Canada’s role in preventing global warming

Bio - Clare Demerse

Clare Demerse

As the Director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, Clare Demerse researches federal government policies that have implications for sustainable energy and climate change. Clare provides analysis to federal officials, politicians and a range of stakeholders as well as acting as a spokesperson in the media on behalf of the Institute.

Clare’s approach to climate and energy policy emphasizes the opportunities for job creation and innovation that come with tackling greenhouse gas pollution, as well as the economic and public health risks associated with business as usual.

As the mother of a one-year-old son, Clare finds the long-term nature of climate and energy policy "just got a lot more personal."

"2040 or 2050 sounds far away to me, but for my son Cole it’s the timeline where he’ll be settling into his job, buying a house or having kids of his own. Thinking about his future makes a tough issue that much more tangible and important to me."


    • Clare earned a master’s degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, specializing in political reporting and working as an intern for Time magazine’s Canadian edition as well as the Montreal Gazette. Thanks to another internship program, Clare landed in the halls of Parliament Hill next, working with the former Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities.
    • Clare joined the Pembina Institute in 2006 as a climate policy analyst. She became Associate Director of the Institute's Climate Change program in 2009 and its Director in 2011.
    • She is the author of numerous publications and opinion pieces (blogs and op-eds) on climate policy, including 2011’s Reducing Pollution, Creating Jobs, a report on the employment impacts of climate policy. 
    • Clare’s work at Pembina triggered her interest in the ethical issues associated with climate change. A 2008 Global Fellowship with the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, a Toronto-based philanthropic organization, allowed her to pursue this interest as part of a program that funded researchers interested in international relations. The resulting publication,  Our Fair Share, is among the Institute’s best-known.

To book Clare Demerse for an engagement, please contact Lynne Whenham by email or by calling (604) 874-8558 ext. 226.


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