Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities


Presented by the GPOP PD Committee, this is the first in a series of sessions offering opportunities to meet your peers, ask questions, and learn from one another in a collegial and supportive environment.

Wednesday, March 3rd; 12 noon PT, 1pm MT, 2pm CT, 3pm ET, 4pm AT

Topic: Presidential Transitions (Onboarding a New President)

Hosted by Lianne Birkbeck, Executive Assistant and Government Relations Advisor at Lambton College, this one-hour event will feature Cheryl McMurray, Executive Assistant to the President at Fanshawe College, who will share her experience with onboarding a new president.



In lieu of an in-person conference this year, GPOP is pleased to present two separate speakers.

Keynote Presentations

Wednesday, April 14, 2021; 9am PT, 10am MT, 11am CT, 12 noon ET, 1pm AT

Shelagh Donnelly

Choosing Resilience over Perfection: A Better Approach to High Performance

You give a lot to your career, but are you investing your energies in the right direction? Many assistants are known for a tendency toward perfectionism. Shelagh was one of them. Of course, you want to be known for the quality of your work. When it comes to performance outcomes and your career, though, you may be better off approaching this from a basis of focusing on resilience.

Join Shelagh for a look at strategies that have helped her and may help you, as well. This session is ideal for assistants who are seeking both strong performance outcomes and career satisfaction.

 SHELAGH DONNELLY is an international speaker and trainer and founder of ‘Exceptional EA’.  She is also one of the founders of GPOP.  Shelagh delivers quality, customized education. She brings expertise and humour to the serious matters of high performance and career satisfaction.  She’s authentic, practical and positive.  She knows what it’s like to navigate, survive and thrive in times of uncertainty and change. Her successful career spanned a corporate merger, economic recessions, the dissolution of one institution, and helping establish the culture of its successor. Shelagh founded her globally read Exceptional EA website in 2013. A recognized thought leader, she also writes for other publications. She’s launched and co-launched internal networks, and chaired a national board of directors.  Shelagh’s client list includes professional associations, government, healthcare, higher education and governance bodies, and corporations such as the NBA.


Friday, April 23, 2021; 9am PT, 10am MT, 11am CT, 12 noon ET, 1pm AT

Kent Highnam

The Power of Positive NO


Whether you are negotiating an important issue, expressing your thoughts and feelings in a conflict or standing firm under pressure, the ability to self-manage, connect with your values and assert yourself is crucial to being able to reach outcomes that work for you.


KENT HIGHNAM, Cert. ConRes., BA, MA, is an international educator and speaker with a background in international and public relations with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. He has worked in public and private organizations as an educator, facilitator and practitioner in collaborative, interest-based processes in both English and French. As Program Director of JIBC’s School of Health and Community Social Justice, Kent also has extensive experience in human resources and labour relations issues. He directs and teaches for the Centre for Conflict Resolution, the Centre for Leadership and also instructs in JIBC’s Law Enforcement Studies Diploma.



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