Succession Planning for the Heritage Sector: The Labour Market and Emerging Professionals

September 28, 2023

In partnership with the National Trust for Canada and ACO Next Gen, ICOMOS Canada has organised a panel discussion on perspectives from emerging professionals on the labour market and education in heritage.

This panel will take place over a zoom webinar on September 28th, 2023, at 12pm EST.

Register for the event here:

Panel Abstract

The heritage sector struggles with succession planning. The next generation of workers struggles to connect with older generations, partly stemming from an absence of emerging professionals in spaces dedicated to addressing youth and student training and employment, leaving a critical deficit in information on the impact of current economic and social conditions on these individuals. This has contributed towards a lack of mutual understanding on the needs of emerging professionals’ (eg quality employment) versus the needs of employers (eg skill sets and expertise).

Bringing together four emerging professionals from different fields and three organisations with experience with data relating to the heritage sector’s labour market, this session will  identify and explore some of the biggest challenges facing emerging professionals today and the impact this may have on the future of the heritage sector. This session is designed to benefit employers, educators, and emerging professionals, and is formatted as a response to the absence of emerging professionals from discussions on the future of the heritage labour force.


Sara Shemirani – ACO NextGen and Giaimo

Sara is an Architectural Designer with international study experience in China, Germany, Italy, and Canada. With a Bachelor of Architectural Science from Toronto Metropolitan University, she contributes to a range of projects at Giaimo from building condition assessments to design exhibits and heritage interpretation installations. She’s also pursuing a Certificate in Digital Photography from George Brown College and assists the studio with content creation, visual communications, and award submissions. Passionate about heritage conservation, Sara volunteers for the non-profit Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO), where she serves as the ACO NextGen Executive Liaison.

Maryssa Barras – MSc, ICOMOS Canada

Maryssa Barras is an archaeologist who specialises in policy and advocacy work. Holding an MSc in Archaeology, and currently working towards a MA in Planning from the University of Waterloo where her research focuses on the interactions between archaeological, heritage, and planning policies and legislation, with a particular interest on the impact of these policies on Indigenous land management and the potential for improved consultation practices by Canadian entities and individuals. Maryssa is also presently the Executive Director of ICOMOS Canada, where she is managing the Youth in Heritage program. Maryssa played a key role as project lead and founder for the Points of Pride 2SLGBTQ+ mapping project in Hamilton, ON, which won a 2022 Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Heritage Award.

Leanna Wigblodus – MSc, PhD student University College Dublin

Leanna Wigboldus is an ICOMOS Canada Emerging Professional and current PhD student in World Heritage at University College Dublin (UCD). She holds a BA from the University of Guelph and has received an MSc in World Heritage Management and Conservation from UCD and a Certificate in Environmental Sustainability from the same institution. Her PhD research focuses on the importance of traditional knowledges and biocultural practices for resilience of World Heritage continuing agricultural landscapes. Leanna has worked on several national and international heritage research contracts, including with Heritage Malta, the ICOMOS International Secretariat, and CAHP. She received a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship (2019) from the Irish Research Council, a National University of Ireland Award (2020), and the Jacques Dalibard Award from ICOMOS Canada (2022). In 2022, she was selected as the ICOMOS Focal Point for the Climate Heritage Network.

Solène Mallet Gauthier – PhD candidate at the University of  Alberta

Solène is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Alberta and an Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology scholar. She is originally from New Brunswick and obtained a BA and an MA in archaeology from Université Laval. Her current research focuses on a late 19th century Métis site in southwestern Saskatchewan and explores the relation between food, identity and the environment. Solène has experience working in academic and professional archaeology projects in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Québec, and French Guiana and is currently the secretary of the Canadian Archaeological Association.

Natalie Majda – MA, Planning Student at the University of Waterloo

Natalie Majda is a Masters, Planning student at the University of Waterloo and has experience working in heritage planning at the cities of Hamilton, Brampton, and Cambridge. Her academic research will use Indigenous-authored heritage legislation, and other relevant literature, to analyze Ontario heritage planning law. She aims to identify gaps and areas for improvement in its representation and stewardship of diverse Indigenous heritages, ontologies, and worldviews. Natalie is President of the Association of Graduate Planners at the University of Waterloo and is the former Director, Programs & Events at the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s NextGen group.

Antonia Kranjina

Antonia got her career start in non-profit education in Croatia developing and managing learning projects that promote critical thinking, visual literacy, and civic engagement. She moved to Toronto in 2012 and has worked in the nonprofit and museum sectors in the US and Canada building relationships with diverse groups of stakeholders on delivering educational content rooted in critical pedagogy and human-centered design practice. She is currently working in the learning & development field. Her work is driven by values of transformative and emancipatory learning theories and she is a strong believer in the power of education for positive organizational and social change. She is a co-founder of Museum Labour.

Megan Webb

Megan started out in the heritage sector through her Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and continued to receive her Master of Arts in Folklore at the same institution. After working for a decade in the field through positions in archaeology, public folklore, museums, and archives in both Newfoundland and Ontario, she became the Museum Manager of a small community museum in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador. She now strives to utilize her experience to mentor new emerging professionals in heritage.