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Our Team
David Herle, LL.B.

David Herle is one of Canada’s most sought after public affairs and corporate strategists, having helped CEOs manage crises, union leaders shape their public appeals and directing winning campaigns for both prime ministers and premiers.

With more than 20 years of experience in research and communications analysis, David has built a reputation as a source of smart, strategic and strong counsel. David’s strategic and political acumen can be seen on CBC’s The National, where he provides biweekly commentary on “The Insiders” panel.   

With his dual expertise in strategy and research, David excels in brand image and reputation management. He has helped clients like Maple Leaf Foods with crisis management and brand recovery. He has worked with industries like nuclear power to reposition them publicly within the context of a more environmentally-conscious marketplace.

David’s policy experience includes working on nine consecutive federal government budgets, most notably the landmark 1995 budget that paved the way for eliminating the federal deficit by dramatically cutting government spending. That budget turned conventional political wisdom on its head by making a “bad news” budget a huge political success.

David has also served as Premier Kathleen Wynne’s campaign co-chair and steered the Ontario Liberals to a majority government in 2014. As the national campaign chair for the Liberal Party, he also helped to engineer the Right Honourable Paul Martin’s electoral victory in 2004.

He is frequently featured as a speaker and lecturer at universities and conferences on such topics as politics, economic policy, consumer and brandings issues, energy, health care, crisis management, agriculture, and the environment.

A Saskatchewan native, David earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Regina and was called to the Bar in Ontario after receiving his LLB from the University of Saskatchewan.



Jennifer Espey, PhD

Jennifer Espey is an innovative and respected researcher with a lengthy track record of helping clients unlock social, economic and environmental attitudes that affect their interests.

Overseeing and conducting much of the public opinion and special-audience research for Gandalf clients, Jennifer is one of the country’s most skilled engineers of qualitative and quantitative research instruments. She has worked as an opinion researcher and analyst for more than 25 years.

For private sector clients, Jennifer oversees the full range of research needs, working closely with organizations to help tailor and shape research instruments to serve their specific needs. She moderates focus groups, analyses data, identifies critical insights and leads all advanced investigation techniques including multivariate regression analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis and factor analysis.

Jennifer has worked extensively in the public sector and helped to design research programs that have influenced public policy formulation and public communications. Among others, she has worked for the federal Department of Heritage, the Department of Justice, Health Canada, the Department of Industry, the Department of Northern and Indian Affairs and Western Economic Diversification.

Jennifer’s skills have also been employed electorally, helping to design and monitor research programs for winning election campaigns at the federal and provincial levels.

Expert and involved in a wide by a wide range of policy areas, Jennifer has helped utilize research findings to develop strategies in fields such as aboriginal affairs, energy and conservation, disability policy, pension reform, youth and children and more.

A resident of the National Capital region, Jennifer earned her earned her PhD, Masters and BA at the University of New Mexico.

 

Silvia Presenza, B.A., LL.B.

Silvia Presenza is an experienced strategic advisor who specializes in helping C-suite leaders and their organizations successfully navigate moments of change, challenge and transition.  

With nearly twenty years’ experience in business and corporate affairs, Silvia is adept at introducing strategic clarity to organizations confronting major turning points. She has counselled major financial institutions, large retailers, integrated media companies and other organizations of nearly every size and shape.

A lawyer by training, Silvia applies a disciplined, detail-driven approach to creating organizational and employee buy-in for her clients. By creating a sense of shared mission and common goals, she is able to help organizations work together toward the achievement of their objectives. Her areas of specialty include mergers and acquisitions, executive change, financial restructurings, labour relations, shareholder disputes and corporate re-brandings.

As part of her work, Silvia provides a number of specific services to clients including strategic planning, transition support, executive coaching, values mapping, stakeholder and shareholder management and more.

After practicing civil litigation with a major downtown Toronto law firm, Silvia gained experience working in government at Queen’s Park, led her own management consulting firm and served as the Vice President of Corporate Affairs for a well-known international financial institution.

A mother of one daughter, Silvia holds a BA in History and Political Science from Laurentian University, and a LLB from the University of Windsor.



Alexander Swann

Alex Swann is a skilled public opinion researcher with more than fifteen years of project management experience and particular expertise at integrating research findings with strategic communications recommendations.

In his role at Gandalf, Alex oversees a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative research, designing and executing projects on behalf of a wide variety of clients. In his role, he moderates focus groups, conducts one-on-one interviews and provides quantitative analysis. He has also developed specialized expertise in advertising testing, policy deliberation, customer satisfaction surveys and message testing.

Alex’s clients are drawn from a wide variety of sectors including financial services, health care, energy and electricity, food and beverage and solar power. He is also responsible for managing the C-Suite survey of ROB1000 executives, the quarterly results of which appear in the Globe and Mail and on BNN.

His communications expertise includes strategic planning, crisis and issues management, message development and media relations. He has helped dozens of clients transfer critical research findings into actionable communications strategies and tactics.

Prior to joining Gandalf, Alex held senior roles in government and politics, serving as the communications director to the former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of Health and Minister of Public Safety.

Fluently bilingual, Alex holds a BA and MA from the University of Toronto.

 

Anne Kilpatrick

Anne Kilpatrick has over 25 years’ experience harnessing traditional and innovative market research techniques among both general public and stakeholder groups to uncover insights that assist clients in developing policy, program and communication responses to their strategic challenges. Anne has extensive experience developing and executing qualitative and quantitative research programs for longstanding association clients, clients in the financial services sector, federal and provincial regulatory arenas, as well as the health care and not-for-profit sectors.

Anne is a highly seasoned qualitative researcher, with particular skills in the design and application of innovation techniques within group discussion formats and in focus group moderation. She often employs advanced projection techniques while moderating focus groups and innovation sessions. Having undertaken advanced training at the Creative Problem Solving Institute in Buffalo, New York and The Burke Institute in Minnesota, she is conversant with numerous projective techniques that allow research participants to more easily articulate the emotional and intangible considerations that underlie behaviour and attitudes. 

 

Daniel Oettl

Daniel Oettl is a consultant with The Gandalf Group with experience in public opinion research, and the Green Energy policy field.  Daniel has conducted client and issue research, project management, survey instrument design, supplier quality control, analysis and reporting on quantitative and qualitative projects since joining The Gandalf Group in May 2011.

Before obtaining his Master of Public Policy from the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto, Daniel was a research associate at a national public opinion research firm where he worked for health, philanthropy, energy, and environment sector clients.  Daniel interned with the Green Energy unit in Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment where he worked on external stakeholder communications as well as regulatory amendments.

Daniel was born in Toronto and lived in Berlin and South Carolina before attending McGill University for his BA in Political Science and History.  He speaks fluent German and English as well as some French.


Melissa Branco

As the Executive Operations Manager with a background in market research and communications, Melissa complements The Gandalf Group with a multidisciplinary skill set that contributes to the achievement and growth of the firm and provides expert support to the executive team in the project management of all client files.

Prior to joining The Gandalf Group, Melissa worked in the Corporate and Public Affairs division of a Public Relations agency in Toronto. Working with various clients such as Plan Canada, The Belinda Stronach Foundation, Special Olympics of Canada, Ministry of Health, Ontario Electronic Stewardship, Church and Dwight and CBC, Melissa provided consultation and services such as media relations, writing materials, media coaching, event coordination, crisis and issues management.

Melissa also brings over a decade of experience coordinating and managing qualitative market research projects. She has worked both on the supplier side and with moderators ensuring quality control of respondents, managing logistics for focus groups, designing respondent sceeners and drafting research reports.

Melissa graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications Studies and Linguistics from York University and holds a certificate in Public Relations from Ryerson University.


Kyla Ronellenfitsch

Kyla Ronellenfitsch is a consultant with The Gandalf Group and has experience in both qualitative and quantitative public opinion research. She has been responsible for questionnaire design, reporting, and advanced data analysis. Amongst others, Kyla has experience advising clients in the professional sports, energy and healthcare sectors.

Prior to joining the Gandalf Group, Kyla worked for a multi-national pharmaceutical company. She also sits on the National Board of Directors for Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization dedicated increasing the proportion of women in Canada's elected offices.

Kyla has a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management and a Master's Degree in Political Management - both from Carleton University.


Ihor Korbabicz

Ihor Korbabicz is a consultant with The Gandalf Group specializing in public opinion research design and advanced data analysis. Complemented by a wealth of experience in both offline and online quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, he is responsible for the design, analysis and reporting of studies across sectors.

Prior to joining The Gandalf Group, Ihor provided quantitatively derived and proven advice to clients in the political, government, healthcare, media and financial services sectors at another opinion research firm, which he joined following a communications and legislative role on Parliament Hill.

Ihor holds a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management and a Master’s Degree in Political Management, both specializing in political behavior and opinion research.


Lucy De Luca

Lucy De Luca, Administrative Assistance to The Gandalf Group, brings extensive experience in office procedures, protocols and management services. She has worked in both private and public sectors.

Prior to joining The Gandalf Group, Lucy worked for the Municipal level of government for 18 years. She assisted staff at various levels, citizens and the general public with inquires concerning outreach and strategic planning. Her significant experience in customer service resolved issues with effective and accessible service delivery. She dealt with many different departments and supervisors at Toronto Hydro, TCHC, Enbridge and private contractors to ensure a positive outcome in customer service.

Lucy also has experience in the banking/finance sector where she acquired an in-depth knowledge of accounting and financial practices.

Lucy is a graduate of Seneca College from the Business Program.


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