Forward Thinking Speaker Series

The Forward Thinking Speaker Series reflects EPL’s rich history of taking risks, trying new things and redefining the modern library. EPL invites thought-leaders from a variety of industries to share their insights, ideas, experiences and viewpoints. Its purpose is to help build better organizations, neighborhoods and communities.

Is there a speaker that you would like to see at a future Forward Thinking Speaker Series presentation? Please send us your recommendations to

A nominal admission price to Forward Thinking Speaker Series presentations supports EPL fundraising activities and helps ensure attendance to our events. We also want to ensure EPL’s Forward Thinking Speaker Series events are inclusive. If the ticket price is a barrier, please contact

Featured Speaker

Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sports and Me with Michael Landsberg

Michael Landsberg was the charismatic and outspoken host of TSN's Off the Record—and from watching his show, you'd never guess that he has been battling mental illness and depression for most of his life. Lifting the stigma from this topic, Landsberg delivers a powerful and personal keynote on the dangerously misunderstood issues of depression and mental health. Depression can affect even the most successful of athletes—from Clara Hughes, one of the great amateur athletes in Canada, to four-time World Series winner Darryl Strawberry. Landsberg shares the story of his own battle with mental illness, as well as the unexplored stories of some of the world's most recognizable sports figures, to show us that recovery, strength and hope are possible in some of our darkest times.

This event is presented in partnership with the Edmonton Community Foundation.

Caroline Szwed

This event will be moderated by Caroline Szwed, Senior Content Creator for Oilersnation, who produces and hosts hockey shows for the company. Her favourite part of the job is creating / producing content and interacting with all Oilers fans online. She swears there's no better and more authentic NHL fan base than the one here in Edmonton!

At the age of 16, Caroline represented the Canadian Women’s Soccer team at the U17 World Cup in New Zealand. She then received a scholarship to play NCAA D1 soccer at West Virginia University. After suffering a career ending injury, she decided to pursue a Masters in Journalism.

Caroline is also a big advocate for shelter animals in need of a home. She adopted her toothless dog, Cash six years ago and says it will forever be the best thing she did. She will always continue to use her voice to help those who don't have one. Caroline has recently partnered with The Edmonton Humane Society and has big goals in helping each shelter animal find their forever home.

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Future Speakers

An Evening with Monica Lewinsky
(Event details including date and venue will be announced in December 2021)

General Admission tickets - $25 each
Reserved Seating tickets - $50 each
Preferred Seating tickets - $249 each (tickets include front of the theatre seating and admission to a post-event reception with Ms. Lewinsky)

Monica Lewinsky is a social activist in the battle against online harassment -- advocating for a safer social media environment. As a public speaker, writer, and contributor to Vanity Fair she addresses such topics as survival, resilience, digital reputation and equality.

Monica’s lens for these societal issues is focused by her myriad unique and profound experiences:  working in government -- both in the White House and the Pentagon; the investigation that resulted from her time in Washington, D.C.; involvement in media projects as both producer and subject; as an entrepreneur and designer; and lastly, education. She graduated with a degree in Psychology from Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon) and, living abroad for graduate school, earned a Master’s degree in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In 2014, after a decade long self-imposed retreat from public life, Lewinsky authored an essay, titled “Shame and Survival”, for Vanity Fair in which she overlapped personal experiences and cultural observations regarding the shift towards, what Professor Nicholaus Mills calls, a “Culture of Humiliation” (June, 2014).  The acclaimed piece, which received over two million unique views online and was nominated for a National Magazine Award, was an entry point for her to begin a process she describes as “taking back my narrative and giving a purpose to my past.”

Lewinsky became known to the public in 1998, when it was revealed as part of a federal investigation that she had had an intimate relationship with then President Bill Clinton.  Overnight, at just 24 years old, she went unwillingly, from being an entirely private individual to a public figure on the global stage. Being at the center of a legal, political and media maelstrom nearly destroyed her; her survival—despite the odds—is a compelling and inspiring story.

The investigation unfolded against a backdrop of a changing media landscape with the advent of both competing 24-hour News Networks and the Internet. With the birth of social media in recent years, Lewinsky saw the increasing proliferation of the perpetuation of shame and humiliation online. As someone who had experienced both, on the widest scale and at a young age, she saw that she could participate in the public discourse about online harassment and work to effect change.

In October, 2014, Lewinsky gave a speech about the Internet’s reputation shredder at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit where she spoke from the perspective of being Patient Zero—having been the first person to have her reputation completely destroyed online. This well received and widely watched speech launched her present day speaking career.

In March, 2015, she was a speaker at the annual TED Conference, the theme of which was “Truth and Dare”.  Her speech, “The Price of Shame” was viewed over 16 million times. She also gave the Ogilvy + Inspire Lecture at the Cannes Lions 2015.

Lewinsky is an Anti-Bullying Ambassador to both Bystander Revolution in the US and The Diana Award in the UK. Lewinsky is on the advisory board of Project Rockit and a founding member of the Childhood Resilience Foundation.

On a personal note, Monica is passionate about art—particularly that of contemporary artist Ed Ruscha, game for traveling to new places, loves to sing show tunes, frequents flea markets and doesn’t cook.

Past Speakers

Moral Courage means listening instead of labelling those with whom we disagree. Irshad Manji believes listening to opposing views is important to better understand who we are as individuals. If you missed her thought-provoking talk on Thursday, Feb. 18, you can watch it here.

Recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s first Chutzpah Award for boldness, Irshad Manji is the author of Don't Label Me: An Incredible Conversation for Divided Times and is the founder of Moral Courage College, opens a new window, which teaches people how to do the right thing in the face of fear. She is also the Director for Courage, Curiosity, and Character at Let Grow, opens a new window, a New York-based nonprofit that builds intellectual independence and emotional resilience in kids. A prize-winning professor, Manji currently lectures with Oxford University’s Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights.

You can listen to our interview with Irshad Manji on our podcast, Overdue Finds.

Stemming from her award-winning book Seven Fallen Feathers, opens a new window, the story of seven Indigenous high school students who mysteriously died in Thunder Bay, Tanya Talaga creates an intimate experience for her audiences. She imparts audiences with in-depth knowledge on Indigenous culture and history, while leaving them empowered through a hopeful message that we can learn from our past and set forward on a new path for our nation based on inclusivity and equity.

An award-winning journalist and author, and the First Ojibway woman to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures, Tanya Talaga is an acclaimed storyteller. Her book Seven Fallen Feathers, a national bestseller that introduced us to seven Indigenous high school students who mysteriously died in Thunder Bay, won the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize. In her powerful keynotes, Talaga shares Indigenous stories from across Canada and the world, humanizing the legacy of residential schools and colonization and sharing her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future.

You can listen to our interview with Tanya Talaga on our podcast, Overdue Finds.

Customer Service = Profit. So many companies either don’t understand this rule, or need help implementing it. Great companies know it’s not enough to have customers leave satisfied – the key is to have them leave happy. That is a step beyond service. Superb customer service creates intense customer loyalty and fuels referrals. This presentation included inspiring stories from around the world, and examples of incredible and unexpected customer service ideas that your audience can implement immediately.

Terry O'Reilly has written three books including, The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture, This I Know: Marketing Lessons From Under The Influence and his latest is My Best Mistake about people who made catastrophic career decisions - but it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to them. The book launches in October. He has been given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Advertising & Design Club of Canada, and has been granted Honorary Degrees from three Canadian universities.

You can listen to our interview with Terry O'Reilly on our podcast, Overdue Finds.

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