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Gift of Communication 2020: Navigating Crisis Communications During COVID-19

The International Association for Business Communicators (IABC) Maritime Chapter is partnering with United Way for the annual Gift of Communication event on October 21, 2020, 9a.m.-12p.m.

This year’s virtual event will feature communications professionals from different sectors discussing how they have navigated crisis communications during COVID-19. Join us for a deep dive into the pandemic’s impact on organizations in fields such as non-profit, health care, real estate and public relations.

Our four speakers have extensive communications experience and will share lessons learned, challenges, successes, and advice from the pandemic’s first wave and insights on how to be ready for a second wave.

Speakers and their respective sectors:

  • Non-profit: Lydia Phillip, Black Business Initiative

  • Public relations: Karen White, NATIONAL Public Relations

  • Health care: Deidre Taylor, Nova Scotia Health

  • Real estate: Tanya White, Nova Scotia Association of Realtors

As part of the event, there will be an opportunity to workshop your crisis communications challenges with our panel of experts and other attendees, please come prepared with a scenario to work on. Also, there will be a general Q&A during the last hour. Please send your questions for our panel to Elizabeth Sutcliffe at or Juanita Onochie at by October 16, 2020.

Meet Our Speakers

Lydia Phillip

Deeply invested in creating a positive social impact through education and advocacy, Lydia is the Training & Communications manager at the Black Business Initiative. A published writer and researcher, Lydia is on the boards of Fusion Halifax and Zatzman Sportsplex, and is an equity and anti-racism consultant.

A part-time reservist with the Canadian Armed Forces (COATS), Lydia is passionate about aviation and working with youth. She is a pilot and glider flight instructor and in 2018 was the first Black woman in Atlantic Canada to hold the leadership role of “Flight Commander” at the Debert Cadet Flying Training Centre.

Karen White

Karen brings more than 20 years of communications experience to every project, providing senior counsel and strategic advice for a wide range of organizations as they navigate complex and challenging files. Karen specializes in strategic communication planning; emergency and crisis communication; issues and reputation management; and stakeholder, government and media relations.

As a trusted partner, she works with organizations to effectively manage issues like cyber security, sexual assault, leadership transitions and organizational change. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Karen supported a wide range of organizations as they navigated the complexities of a global pandemic. Incident Command System trained, Karen is also an expert operational and emergency response communicator. She is a sought-after speaker and trainer throughout the Atlantic region, who prides herself on working collaboratively to build effective reputation and brand strategies.

Karen leads the AVENIR Global Crisis Sector and holds a Bachelor of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University and a Master of Business Administration from Saint Mary’s University. She serves on the boards of the Maritimes Energy Association and the Offshore Energy Research Association.

Deidre Taylor

Deidre Taylor is a senior communications advisor with Nova Scotia Health, supporting the Primary Health Care portfolio of community-based health care and Department of Family Practice. Deidre has worked in health care for the past 14 years and has held previous roles in provincial and federal government, as well as the non-profit sector.

Deidre holds bachelor’s degrees in business administration from the University of New Brunswick and public relations from Mount Saint Vincent University, and a master’s of arts in leadership from the University of Guelph. She also has received the communications management professional designation from the Global Communication Certification Council. Deidre is a member of the IABC Maritime Board.

Tanya White

Tanya Taylor White is a past President of IABC Maritimes (1997-98) and an Accredited Business Communicator with IABC. Tanya has worked in all levels of government from HRM to Parks Canada and now works with the Nova Scotia Association of REALTORS as Communications Director. Tanya is a graduate of the MSVU PR Program.

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