2020 Speakers

Opening Keynote – Shadeen Francis

Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson is no stranger to speaking truth to power or the importance of using your voice to uplift and to educate. Utilizing an intersectional approach they foster communal discussions regarding aspects of human sexuality that are often ignored, even in sex-positive spaces; namely: fantasy, fetishism, and marginalized identity. At 26 years old Wilson wears many hats: educator, artist, harm reductionist, art director, to name a few. Originally from DC Alex works professionally as a public health specialist in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University serving the needs of non-men who use drugs and sell sex. They received their BA in Psychology from Rutgers University, focusing additionally on gender studies and linguistics. Alex works to remove barriers that often separate people from sharing and receiving information and subsequently from understanding and from healing. As a chronically ill, black, enby Alex works diligently to prioritize the voices and experiences of the marginalized at every level. Through sex education, Alex aims to engage in critical discussions about identity, trauma, sex, and sexuality ultimately working to know more about the way we as people perceive sex and why that is. If we can understand our attitudes and experiences surrounding sex we can move forward together into a deeper understanding, acceptance and create stronger bonds of community that endure.Alex will be presenting Beauty, Shame and Desire: Understanding How Conventional Standards of Beauty Limit and Control and When We Give Too Much with Cathy Vartuli & Jet Noir.

Cara G*

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Cara is a thinker, educator, wordsmith, traveller, and facilitator from Toronto*, Ontario. As a kinky, queer-identified PhD student diagnosed with a pervasive, sometimes disabling, seldom “visible” chronic condition, she is deeply connected to her research and writing on topics like the complexities of negotiating not-so-obvious disabilities/impairments in sexual (and non-sexual) contexts. Whether in post-secondary classrooms, at conferences and festivals, or across kitchen tables, she attempts to put theory into practice by facilitating often-controversial cross-sectional conversations. Cara tries to make more dialogues accessible to more people by publishing and presenting in both non-academic and academic spaces and places, from outdoor festivals to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.
*sacred territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit (Anishinaabe) and Haudenosaunee people, and also inhabited by the Huron-Wendat, Petun, and Seneca First Nations.Cara G* is presenting From Normal to XXXtra-Ordinary: Re-Writing Our Sexual and Romantic Scripts for Diversity, Access and Inclusion.

Cathy Vartuli

Cathy is a sex-positive Emotional Freedom Coach who helps people transform their traumas into their greatest strengths using love, laughter and inner guidance. She uses a practical yet intuitive approach to help people connect with their own power and guidance. Prior to establishing her coaching business, Cathy got her Masters in Physics at SUNY Binghamton and her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida. She has 19 patents and works in major semiconductor companies doing R&D.On topics around body image, shame reprogramming, and powerful self-expression, Cathy helps clients of all shapes, sizes, ages, and gender expressions break out of old patterns and find their voice, with a focus on helping those who feel shy or awkward gaining their confidence.As an all around geek who compulsively studies marketing and consensual influence… She also loves helping heart-centred sex-positive businesses find their unique voice and expand their audience and increase abundance.Cathy will be presenting:Beauty, Shame and Desire: Understanding How Conventional Standards of Beauty Limit and Controlwith Alex Wilson & Jet NoirWhen We Give Too Much with Alex Wilson & Jet NoirMoving Forward And Making A Difference In The Face Of Challenges with Jet Noir, Melody Anne, & Reid Mihalko

Cherish Dorrington

Passionately assisting others in finding freedom to live without guilt, shame or fear, a psychological therapist for almost 20 years, Cherish has honed her focus around human intimacy, putting her energies where her passion lies: creating a shame-free environment for courageous vulnerability, creative options and personal ownership.Cherish offers workshops on self-awareness, relationships, releasing shame, poly and kink. She’s an instructor with Polyamory Starter Kit, creating primers for those exploring consensual non-monogamy, as well as a co-creator of Therapeutic Diversity Training, educating health professionals in best practices. Additionally, Cherish has been a director for two kink organizations and a community advocate for sexual and relational freedom.Cherish believes the way we see life determines our experience of it; shifting perspectives makes change possible. She is deeply committed to being that safe place for equipping, empowering and cheering others on to healing, awakening and freedom.Cherish will be presenting Resistance through Emotional Resiliencywith Cora Bilsker & Tia Larkin.

Cora Bilsker

Returning to ConvergeCon for the 3rd time, Cora Bilsker, RSW is a counsellor practicing in Victoria and online as Nested Heart Counselling. She’s not your typical counsellor and has a deep love for embracing all that is unconventional while helping release clients of the enculturated shame they may hold around relationship styles, sexuality and more recently, psychedelics. Cora is the co-founder of IDEAS (Integrating Diverse Experiences of Altered States) Victoria and is passionate about encouraging dialogue pre & post trip to help weave the strands of multiple worlds together to maintain congruence within ourselves. She practices from a nurturance lens, encouraging her clients to hold themselves with compassion and understanding even in the midst of confusion or pain.Cora will be presenting Resistance through Emotional Resiliency with Cherish Dorrington & Tia Larkin.

Dawn Serra

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Dawn Serra has dedicated her life to unravelling the cultural stories that impact our relationship to our pleasure, our bodies, and our lives. Working in the field of sexuality and relationships, Dawn’s primary focus is in pleasure for people recovering from eating disorders and those in fat bodies. She is a therapeutic sex & relationship coach, a Certified Body Trust® Provider, speaker, podcaster, facilitator, consultant, and entrepreneur.

Host of the weekly feminist podcast, Sex Gets Real, and creator of the free annual online conference, Explore More Summit, Dawn has interviewed hundreds of people from around the world because amplifying the voices of people from a variety of communities and experiences is important to the vision she holds for our future.

As a white, cis, middle class, queer, fat, survivor, Dawn’s work is a fiercely compassionate invitation for each of us to deepen our relationships with our bodies and our pleasure. She sees this work an antidote to the trauma, disconnection, and isolation so many of us feel. Your pleasure matters. Your body is wise. And Dawn’s work is all about creating spaces and places for you to explore what that means on your terms.Dawn will be presenting Reclaiming Body Trust: Naming the Disruptions & Returning Home to Ourselves.

Elsi Dawson

Independent Full-Service Sex WorkerFounder and President of a nameless Society (sic)Elsi is an independent escort by choice. She is well known as an articulate and convivial companion, able to relate to men and women of all backgrounds. Not content with simply earning a living as a sex worker, Elsi has devoted time and expense in making the lives of other sex workers better. Most recently, she founded a society to provide real-life support to other indoor sex workers. This society includes office space to allow others to work in safe spaces and develop transferable skills. She’s best enjoyed with a grain of salt or a shot of rye.Elsi will be presenting Organized Hookers.

Heather McCain

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Heather McCain is Executive Director of Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods, a non-profit they founded in 2005. Heather’s personal experiences with multiple types of disabilities, inaccessibility, and ableism has led them to become a well-known and respected speaker, advocate, educator, and activist, working with a variety of companies, cities, and non-profits to confront the issues that face disabled people. Recognizing that the disability community is comprised of people with many intersecting identities, Heather is committed to cross-movement organizing and working to ensure that the entire disabled person is considered. Heather also facilitates Qmunity’s group Chronically Queer, a support group for queer folk who have chronic health conditions.

Special guest: Harmony Bongat

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Member of Chronically Queer and emerging Disability Justice advocate and educator.Heather and Harmony are presenting Intro to Disability Justice.

Jet Noir

Jet Noir
Jet Noir has been a part of sex positive communities since 2002 in Atlanta where he frequented a few underground establishments. As a Kinesiologist, educated in the study of human movement and psychology, he has spent 13+ years coaching people to improve their perception of their bodies. He has taught workshops on improving the relationship we have with our five senses (interoception) all around the Bay Area. Not only a host and organizer of play parties for people of color, he also frequently volunteers as an emotional support “angel” in sexually charged environments.

Jet will be presenting a lecture on racial fetishization, what it looks, feels, and sounds like, and most importantly how it hinders diversity in sex positive environments. Dating “preferences”, uninvited hair touching, and undesired commentary will all be addressed in his discussion.Jet is presenting:- Racial Fetishization: A How NOT To GuideBeauty, Shame and Desire: Understanding How Conventional Standards of Beauty Limit and Control with Alex Wilson & Cathy VartuliWhen We Give Too Much with Alex Wilson & Cathy VartuliMoving Forward And Making A Difference In The Face Of Challenges with Cathy Vartuli,Melody Anne, & Reid Mihalko

Little Woo

Little Woo helps unconventional creatives find their true self and life path. In Vancouver and online, she offers training and support around the soul’s core teachings and purpose. Members of her Inner Compass Centre support each other in creating beauty and meaning in the world, even during times of personal or global challenges. Her own life is a case study of how one can transform loneliness, cynicism and despair with love, understanding and compassion. Little Woo is also a multi-disciplinary artist and creator of interactive experiences such as the Sacred Kiss, XoX Temple and Burlesque Yoga. She has been featured for her innovative spirit by the Museum of Vancouver, the Georgia Straight, Vancouver Sun, CBC Radio and CBC Television. More info about upcoming training at littlewoo.orgLittle Woo is presenting Using Your Inner Compass: How to Create Meaning and Beauty Even During Times of Personal or Global Challenges

Marcia Baczynski

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Marcia Baczynski is a renowned speaker, writer and coach on sexual communication, relationships and women’s empowerment. Her primary mission is to help women and the people who love them to overcome shame and get in touch with what they truly want – romantically, sexually and relationally – even if it’s off the beaten path. Marcia is the co-creator of Cuddle Party and founder of the Good Girl Recovery Program. Since 2003, she has worked with tens of thousands of people through her private coaching, workshops and group programs and made appearances in hundreds of magazines, news stories, radio interviews and podcasts. Marcia lives in the Bay Area, CA where she spends a lot of time with her delightfully weird friends, being an auntie, hiking and sailing.Marcia will be presenting Staying Connected In the Time of Social Distancing.

Marlee Liss

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Marlee is a 24-year old leader in community change and contextualized healing. With extensive education in anti-oppressive social work, trauma-informed yoga, and somatic sex education, Marlee’s work acknowledges the relational dance of influence between the soma (the body) and society.She has worked with countless womxn internationally through the facilitation of transformational retreats and local circles. Marlee offers online courses and mentorship programs focused on reclamation and empowerment through embodiment. Her work is deeply inspired by her experience working with Grandmother Kaariina for ‘Sacred Women Retreats’, volunteering with the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, and journeying through trauma and transformation. Marlee published a book about her journey through sexual violence in 2017. Executive Director of the Re-Humanize Movement, Marlee founded this organization in November 2019, after experiencing a profoundly healing restorative justice process for sexual harm.Learn more at www.rehumanizemovement.comMarlee Liss is presenting Restorative Justice for Sexual Violence.

Mel Cassidy

Mel Cassidy is a relationship coach and sex-positive nerd who guides social misfits and cultural rebels to experiences of joyful, embodied, authentic open relationships.
Mel is certified in Counselling for Intimacy and Relationships, Holistic Peer Counselling, and is a ZEGG Forum facilitator. They are a student of the Institute for the Study of Somatic Sexology, and pursue education focused on trauma-informed approaches to the mind-body relationship.With over two decades of experience teaching and facilitating in groups small and large, Mel has a reputation for innovation, novelty, and both thinking and living outside the box.
Mel is queer, and experiences relationships as a solo polyamorous individual, and lives, loves, and dances on the traditional and unceded territories of the K’ómoks Nation in British Columbia, Canada.www.radicalrelationshipcoaching.cawww.monogamydetox.comMel is presenting Navigating Complex Relationships

Melody Anne

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Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Melody Anne is an adult sexuality educator, workshop facilitator, sex researcher, feminist, kinkster, and all-around sensual adventurer. A shameless sex geek with a degree in psychology and sexuality studies, she completed sexual health education training from Options for Sexual Health, and juggles her time between coordinating studies at a sex research lab and teaching workshops on kink, sexual health, and pleasure. She has presented at venues across North America including CatalystCon, Westcoast Bound, Guelph Sexuality Conference, and the University of British Columbia.With over twelve years of experience in the BDSM community under her belt, Melody Anne identifies as a queer, pansexual, poly-flexible kinkster, hedonist, and badass bottom. As an educator and advocate for healthy sexuality, Melody Anne believes that accurate information, clear communication, and continuous exploration are key to a life full of sexual celebration! Follow Melody Anne on Twitter @EroticEducator, or on Facebook.Melody Anne is presenting Moving Forward And Making A Difference In The Face Of Challenges with Cathy Vartuli, Jet Noir, & Reid Mihalko.


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Queer. Kinkster. Nerd. Slut. Educator. Activist.

Redrobin (she/her) is an international sex educator, intimacy and relationship coach, speaker, performer, and activist based in Vancouver, Canada. She is the author of Call Me Holly: My Years on the Pole and Polyglamorous: A Queer Mom’s Misadventures and Lessons in Non-Monogamy. Her unique background as a nurse, stripper, Pro Domme, and Vice President of Metro Vancouver Kink has fueled her passions to help normalize and explore human sexuality. Learn more about Robin’s work at robinsnestcoaching.com and alternativesexuality.caRobin is presenting Female Presenting Tops in a Male Dominated Culture.

Reid Mihalko

Sex and relationship geek Reid Mihalko of ReidAboutSex.com helps adults and college students create more self-esteem, self-confidence, and greater health and accountability in their relationships and sex lives using an inspiring mixture of humour, personal stories, keen insight, and comprehensive sexual health information.In early 2018, some very brave people came forward during #MeToo sharing harms that Reid had caused them. Reid stepped down from teaching and initiated a restorative justice-based accountability process to address his misconduct and make amends if and where possible. The formal, year-long process along with Reid’s apology and resources were shared publicly and can be found at TinyURL.com/reidaccountability. Going forward, Reid’s projects and appearances will include pointing people towards resources and experts on restorative and transformative justice-based accountability processes.Reid is also founder of Sex Geek Summer Camp, Sex Geek Conservatory, and Sex Geek School for Gifted Sex Geeks, which help sex educators learn valuable business skills that allow them to reach more people with greater ease, transform more lives, and make a better living as sexperts.Follow Reid on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Instagram.Reid will be presenting:- Having Difficult Conversations In Close-QuartersMoving Forward And Making A Difference In The Face Of Challenges with Cathy Vartuli, Jet Noir, & Melody Anne

Tia Larkin

Tia (she/her) is a queer human and therapist working/living/playing on Lekwungen speaking Territory, known to many as Victoria BC. Much of her volunteerism, research, and career has been centred around Human Sexuality, particularly LGBTQ* experience, the unique experiences of those who identify as bisexual, and sexual fluidity. She has spoken on podcasts, panels on topics of sexuality and embodies authentic pleasure in her life and work. Social Justice is an inherent part of her therapeutic practice: she loves to empower folx with a more tangible understanding of what self care is for them, so that they can engage in social justice and their own work to their fullest, joyful potential.Tia attended ConvergeCon last year as the on-site counsellor and is thrilled to be returning for the first time as a speaker! Learn more about Tia’s work at www.tialarkin.com and follow her at @TiaLCounselling on Facebook and Instagram.

Shadeen Francis, LMFT

Shadeen Francis is a sought-after speaker, licensed psychotherapist, and media personality whose expertise spans the domains of sex therapy, emotional intelligence, and social justice. She has been featured on platforms like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and the New York Times to share her unique expertise. Known for her signature brand of warmth, and humour, Shadeen is invited to speak internationally on topics like sexual self-esteem, overcoming shame, and relationship design. Shadeen is full of fun surprises, and with a background in Neuroscience and radio hosting, she easily transforms difficult subjects into actionable and engaging conversations. Whether in her office, in an academic setting, or at a community event, all of Shadeen’s work is inspired by her commitment to helping people live lives full of peace and pleasure.Shadeen will be giving our Opening Keynote speech, The Power of Pleasure: Coming Together Against Oppression

Dr. Shauna Correia

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Dr. Shauna Correia, B. Eng, MDCM, FRCPC, completed her medical training at McGill University and then her residency in psychiatry at Dalhousie University. She now serves as clinical faculty at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and works as a sexual medicine specialist at the BC Centre for Sexual Medicine (BCCSM) where she assesses and treats men, women, gender-diverse folk, and couples/partnerships referred for a wide variety of sexual difficulties and concerns (including sexual dysfunctions, sexual pain syndromes, and paraphilias). She is involved in several research projects involving the optimization of sexual functioning and has a strong interest in sexual medical education. To sum it up: Shauna is super passionate about all things sex, especially about how to help enrich and improve peoples’ sexual experiences.Outside of work Shauna enjoys travelling, hiking, skiing, and spending time with her amazing dog Seiki, a certified therapy dog.Shauna is presenting When sex hurts… and you don’t want it to!

Wendy Scheirich

Wendy Scheirich is a retired nurse and social services worker from Manitoba. She worked for over 25 years on the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation of vulnerable children and adults. Following retirement she attended university and earned a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and continued in a volunteer capacity to combat sexual abuse and exploitation. She experienced an epiphany and, as a result, is now in training to become a professional somatic sex educator where the focus is on sexual healing and pleasure.Wendy is presenting Temple of Pleasure: A Most Unusual Tale of Sexual Awakening.