Speaker Bios

Silken Laumann

SilkenFour-time Olympian Silken Laumann is one of Canada’s most inspirational leaders, a bestselling author, and a highly recognizable and beloved athlete. As an elite athlete, writer, and life coach, Silken has made her work reaching her own potential and helping others reach theirs. Inspiring, funny, thought-provoking and always down to earth, Silken opens her heart and leaves her audience ready to unlock their own potential and aspire to their own greatness. What prevails in Silken is the human spirit, the humor to keep learning through the failures, the courage to see opportunities within obstacles, and the tenacity to never stop trying to be better.

Silken’s Olympic story is legendary and inspirational. As reigning world champion, Silken fought back from a devastating rowing accident to win a bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Her stunning 10-week recovery and her courage in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles endeared her in the hearts of Canadians. Silken was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, having won three Olympic medals and four World Championships. She is also the two-time winner of the Canadian Female Athlete of the Year award and recipient of the Lou Marsh award in 1992, as Canada’s top athlete.  Although her competitive rowing career ended in 1999, her ability to inspire continues.

Silken is authentic and honest about her life journey. In her memoir, Unsinkable, Silken shines a spotlight on all the obstacles she has encountered—and overcome. Silken speaks candidly about her athletic success and triumph over physical adversity, but also the intense personal challenges of her past and the fierce determination she applies to living a bold, loving and successful life today. Silken is also passionate about mental health, and normalizing this conversation to help end the stigma to support others through their journey of recovery.

Silken has learned to approach each day with energy and optimism while continuing to dream big. She has used her notoriety to raise money and awareness for a variety of initiatives, including GoodLife Kids Foundation as their Kids Champion, raising funds to support national, provincial and local programs that provide sustainable physical activity opportunities for kids ages 4–14; Right To Play International, an organization that brings sport and play to the most disadvantaged children in the world; and WE Day, a celebration of youth making a difference in their local and global communities.

In 2015, Silken received a Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Today, Silken is passionate about sharing her experiences and empowering others to rise to their potential and live their happiest and healthiest lives.

Rehona Zamani


Rehona Zamani completed her Honours Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto in June 2019 with a double major in Global Health and Nutritional Sciences, and a minor in Immunology. During her undergraduate career, Rehona's academic endeavours included conducting research for the Hospital for Sick Children and the Department of Nutritional Sciences at UofT. She dedicated the remainder of her time to mentoring students with Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto and Victoria College, volunteering with the University Health Network, and studying new languages.

She was recently accepted into the UofT Faculty of Medicine where she currently studies as a first-year medical student, and spends her free time with family and friends. 

Scott Schieman

Scott Schieman is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Toronto (St. George). He is also Canada Research Chair in the Social Contexts of Health. His research focuses on understanding the social psychology of inequality and its implications for stress, well-being, and behaviour. He is currently the lead investigator of the Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Study—a longitudinal study of 6,000 Canadian workers, with interviews that will span almost a decade or more, to study the demands and resources in the work-family interface and their consequences for health. His research has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control in the United States and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

Melissa A. Milkie

Melissa A. Milkie is Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, and Chair of the Graduate Department of Sociology. Her research examines work-family conflicts, stressors such as parenting strains, and how these link to well-being. She is co-author of Changing Rhythms of American Family Life, which showed changes in mothers’ and fathers’ time spent in paid work, childcare, housework, and leisure over recent decades. The book also explored the meanings and experiences of parents’ family and work roles and how these have changed in significant and important ways. She has a new Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant entitled “Time Together and Apart: Clarifying the Family Time Paradox in Canada and the United States.”

Scott & Melissa