Meet Melanie

Melanie Willard, Keynote Speaker I'm adventurous and a fighter who has overcome many life-threatening battles including domestic violence, PTSD, addiction, cancer, loss, eating disorders, and suicide. I'm passionate about helping "the helpers" bounce back from their own adversity and find meaning in the important work they do.

In her 20’s - Melanie traveled to the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East as a missionary working with schools, native communities, prisons, churches, women and homeless shelters.

From 2004-2014 - Melanie served on the frontlines of crisis and disasters. She pioneered and managed a network of 250 chaplains, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, who deployed to assist victims of 25+ crisis and disasters across North America including Hurricane Katrina 2005, Vancouver Olympics 2010, and the Moncton RCMP Shooting 2014. She trained, recruited and deployed these responders across Canada. During this time, she worked closely with various First Responders and community leaders impacted by these critical incidents and their roles. As a result, Melanie personally experienced the impact of burnout, compassion fatigue and PTSD and as a result is a voice to help break the silence and stigma especially in frontline positions. She has been providing one on one care to individuals in crisis for over 20 years.

In 2016 - Melanie published her true story of triumph over tragedy entitled “Dare to be Raw”, which was a top 10 finalist for a global award in the memoir category. Her inspiring and candid memoir promises to inject the reader with newfound grit, renewed hope, and compassion for human suffering.

Today, Melanie’s passion is to help organizations grow in resilience while breaking the silence and stigma attached to human suffering. She speaks to students, organizations, helping professionals and first responders on building resilience, self-care, crisis intervention and leadership. She savours every moment she spends with her husband Chris, and stepson, Tyler, in their cozy log home. She loves the outdoors, archery, skiing, laughing, and having meaningful conversations with other humans.


Specialized Certification in
Crisis & Trauma Response

Vicarious Trauma
Addictions & Youth
Self-injury in Youth
Walking Through Grief
Challenging Behaviors in Youth
Bullying Intervention Strategies
Crisis Response Planning
Understanding Mental Illness
Brief Focused Counselling Skills
Critical Incident Group Debriefing
Mindfulness Counselling Strategies
Disordered Eating (From Image to Illness)
De-escalating Potentially Violent Situations
Motivating Change / Approaching Resistance

International Critical Incident Stress Foundation

(ICISF) 2007 – 2013

Suicide Prevention, Intervention & Postvention
Emotional & Spiritual Care in Disasters
Grief Following Trauma
Pastoral Crisis Intervention
Law Enforcement Perspectives
Individual Crisis Intervention
Group Crisis Intervention

*Incident Command System
(National Disaster Training Program) 2010

*Banff RCMP Victim Services Training 1999


Hurricane Katrina 2005
Terrace BC, Flood 2007
Abbotsford Floor Collapse 2008
Fredericton NB, Flood 2008
Chilliwack BC, Flood 2009
Vancouver BC, Olympics 2010
Leamington ON, Tornado 2010
Medicine Hat AB, Flood 2010
Bonavista NL, Flood 2010
Burt’s Corner NB, Flood 2011
Noyan QC, Flood 2011
Slave Lake AB, Fire 2011

Goderich ON, Tornado 2011
Perth Andover NB, Flood 2012
Thunder Bay ON, Flood 2012
Huntsville ON, Flood 2013
Minden ON, Flood 2013
Southern Alberta Flood, 2013
Calgary AB, Mass Murders 2014
Sussex Corner NB, Flood 2014
Belleville ON, Flood 2014
Moncton NB, Police Shooting 2014
Melville SK, Flood 2014
Burlington ON, Flood 2014
Operation Christmas Child, 2008-2014