HTAi Secretariat

Rob Abbott

Executive Director

Rob Abbott is a pioneering strategy and social responsibility catalyst in Canada; a much sought-after facilitator, moderator and content-weaver; a coach to entrepreneurs and executives; and a professor of global management and strategy.

Rob’s experience in medical life sciences includes appointments as a member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network (CGDN), and the Canadian Gene Cure Foundation.  He subsequently became CEO of CGDN, a role that required him to regularly discuss advances in gene-based medical research on the one hand, and the translation of that research into practical diagnostics and therapeutics on the other.  He has also advised provincial and federal health authorities in Canada and abroad on a wide variety of issues, including the role of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics in the delivery of health care.

Rob writes and speaks on strategic environmental issues regularly, and is the author of Uncommon Cents: Thoreau and the Nature of Business; Conscious Endeavors: Business, Society and the Journey to Sustainability; and co-author of the forthcoming book, The Future of Mining: 7 Steps to a Globally Sustainable Industry.  Rob is also working on a book, called Walking Toward the Edge: From Heartbreak to Hope in an Age of Loss.

Rob has taught courses and delivered lectures at several universities in North America including the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard.  He has also taught at universities in China, Thailand, and Mexico.

Alicia Powers


Alicia (known as Ali) is an event organizer with over 15 years experience in every aspect of events management, including large and small conference management in national and international locations, workshop development, and annual gala productions. Ali’s experience also includes event work with professional sports teams, universities, hospital foundations, and health technology startup organizations. Before  joining HTAi, Ali held a position in the Corporate Communications and Marketing department at Alberta Innovates. Ali has also executed over 60 weddings over the past decade and was recently shortlisted in the “future leader” category at the Edmonton Event Awards.

Marlene Hanke

Manager, Annual Meetings

Marlene Hanke is the Manager of Annual Meetings, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the planning, promotion, and coordination of HTAi’s Annual Membership Meetings that occur at selected locations worldwide.

Earning her graduate degree in International Business Administration from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, set the groundwork for her international aspirations and launched her career in international companies and organizations, which she supplemented by a diploma degree in Graphic and Communication Design.

Before moving to Canada and joining HTAi, Marlene held various positions in the Corporate Communications and Marketing department at Mondi, a global packaging and paper group with a focus on being sustainable by design. In her roles, Marlene led the international trade fair participations for cross business unit exhibitions, managed the company’s internal online store and coordinated the company’s advertising and international media planning.

Marlene joined the HTAi Team in 2016 and since then, has been supporting the Society in their delivery of Annual Meetings for five cycles in Asia, Europe and North America. She is passionate about the unique and inclusive position HTAi holds by connecting all stakeholders in the HTA environment, facilitating and fostering their knowledge exchange across borders and disciplines to improve health outcomes worldwide.

Melissa Donez

Manager, Finance

Melissa Donez is the finance manager for HTAi. She has been in the accounting industry for over 20 years and has worked in various industries: CPA Firm, Family Owned Construction Company, For-Profit International Print Technology Company, Fitness Chain, Non-for-Profit Consortium Organization. Melissa considers herself a jigsaw puzzler: figuring out how each piece is connected and flows together to complete the whole financial picture. This process requires patience, foresight, and vision.

Denise Jarrett

Senior Coordinator, Annual Meetings

Denise joins the HTA secretariat team bringing over 20 years of project and event management experience. She has studied and worked in the fields of healthcare and health research throughout her career and most recently worked for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK.

For eight years, as a project manager at NICE, Denise managed a series of multi-disciplinary committees responsible for the delivery of a portfolio of more than 40 public health guidelines. During her time in the public health team, she was able to gather a wealth of knowledge and understanding of health guideline development methodologies and processes. This experience was most significantly used when Denise was able to oversee and lead on a project to redesign the timelines that NICE use to develop their public health guidelines.

Denise’s experience in event management includes the delivery of three major international health conferences. Her appointment as Senior Coordinator for HTAi Annual Meeting team comes following her successful delivery of the Guidelines International Development (G-I-N) Annual Conference, which took place in September 2018.

Sydney Ruller

Research Coordinator, Scientific Initiatives

Sydney Ruller finished her thesis-based Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa in June 2020. She also completed a Graduate Diploma in Population Health Risk Assessment and Management at the University of Ottawa, where she had a heavy focus on Epidemiology. Sydney completed an Honours bachelor’s degree in the Biological Sciences Program at the University of Guelph while also completing a Minor in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences.

Sydney’s thesis work focused on risk communication and infectious disease, specifically Canadian media and its portrayal of Zika virus. She has a strong foundational knowledge in infectious disease and health communication, as this was the focus of her thesis work.

Sydney is passionate about Global and Public Health, and she brings experience with quantitative and qualitative research methods and methodology. Sydney also brings her experience working with government and academia to her role at HTAi.

Hana Price

Coordinator, Events

Hana Price has over 10 years of experience in Event Management & Coordination, as well as Communications, Administration, Travel and Project Coordination. Throughout her career, Hana has held positions in various roles in the not for profit sector, including holding a long time role of Event Coordinator with the Institute of Health Economics, as well as taking on various project coordination roles and communication projects.

Hana has organized several types of corporate events such as Consensus Development Conferences, Roundtables, Forums, Webinars, Policy Forums and Annual Meetings, both locally, nationally, and internationally.


Technology Lead

Bryce has been actively engaged and working in Edmonton’s event industry for 7 years. He began his event planning experience as a creative director for a non-profit organization. He has also worked as a conference coordinator, managing large conferences for upwards of 3,000 attendees.

Bryce received formal education from MacEwan University in Design and Illustration, which has provided a strong capacity for creative problem solving that elevates the events he leads to the next level and supports his aptitude for strategic and critical thinking as it applies to the overall event and the interaction of guests within the event space.



Tatiana was born and raised in Omsk, Russia. She began her career in Moscow as a teacher, subsequently moving into the tourism industry allowing her to work in many corners of the world. After a move to Canada in 2002, she began her Canadian work experience as a contract English Teacher in a German bilingual school with Edmonton Public School Board. For the last 13 years Tatiana has been working as a professional administrator specializing in board and executive support. Tatiana’s experience includes senior administrative support service with large, member-based and not-for-profit organizations. She has led numerous administrative process improvement initiatives and has supported boards of directors with a range of fiduciary and strategic activities. Most recently Tatiana worked at MacEwan University in the office of the Provost as Executive Assistant providing support to the General Faculties Council and its committees.  Tatiana holds a Bachelor of Arts and Education from Omsk Teachers’ Training University, and she is currently pursuing her Certified Association Executive designation to remain current on best practices in all aspects of governance.

As HTAi’s Governance and Executive Projects Coordinator, Tatiana provides a range of administrative services, including support for Board and executive activities, governance matters, scheduling meetings and responding to information requests.

Naomi Suwinski

Lead Communications

Naomi has a background loaded with marketing and graphic design to open a solid communication line between internal and external society members. With 10 years of experience in the public and private sector, Naomi has experience in management consulting, professional development, strategic implementation and company collaboration. For the past 6 years, Naomi has worked on several major learning platforms throughout the faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta that has guided online learning.

Evani Goll

Administrative Coordinator

Evani began her clinical research administration career in 2001 as a Clinical Research Assistant in the Mental Health Research Unit of the Children’s & Women’s Health Centre of BC.  With a spark for the profession ignited, she continued to pursue and excel in the industry. Through the years, Evani performed as a Clinical Data Associate, on-site Clinical Research Coordinator, industry Clinical Trials Coordinator, and ultimately as a Research Ethics Officer for BC Cancer. Evani’s exceptional attention to detail coupled with her communication style and sense of humour will bring a fun and fresh approach to her role as Administrative Coordinator at HTAi.

Elise Penny

Coordinator, Events (maternity leave coverage)

Elise Penny has over 10 years of experience in the Events and Hospitality Industry. Elise graduated from Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia and specialized in Event and Hospitality Management. Throughout her career, Elise has planned events at various venues throughout Western Canada. Her experience is within the Social Market and has planned events such as Weddings, Celebrations, Corporate Holiday Parties and Specialty Package Events. Before joining HTAi, Elise was a Wedding and Social Catering Manager with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.