hala inc. IS AN INTERNATIONAL AWARD-WINNING EVENT PLANNING FIRM KNOWN FOR CREATING EXCEPTIONAL EVENTS IN CANADA AND ABROAD.

We are explorers and storytellers. Always searching for what is new and interesting and applying what we learn to tell compelling stories.

We understand that events need to go beyond great design & flawless execution. Every detail needs to be strategically and masterfully crafted from beginning to end. Which is why, we always start the event planning process by getting to know you first.

Then we get to work with a personalized plan that delivers a sensational event that resonates with your audience. Don’t take our word for it—we have a portfolio of work to prove it.

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TALENTED STORYTELLERS
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EVENTS
EXECUTED
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AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
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SUSHI KISSES DELIVERED DAILY

AT hala inc., WE FOSTER BOTH AN INNOVATIVE AND COLLABORATIVE CULTURE.

Each member of our team is exceptional in their own right. Collectively, we bring together a wealth of talent, vision and creativity to each and every event we design and plan.

Our team tailors every occasion to match your brand personality, taste, style and budget. Our dedication to excellence ensures a seamless and cohesive event, whether it is a high-profile charitable event, a buzz-worthy launch party or a corporate affair for 2,500 guests.

Let us bring a fresh and unique perspective to your corporate events, charity fundraisers, private or social events using our powerhouse team of storytellers.

 

Hala Bissada

PRESIDENT & CEO, LEAD STRATEGIST
Hala Bissada - Event Planning Expert

HALA’S ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 2017
    Named one of Canada’s Most Fascinating Woman in Events, Canadian Special Events Magazine.

  • 2015
    Outstanding Alumni Volunteer, Ryerson University

  • 2013
    International Best Industry Contribution, International Live Events Association

  • 2012
    Canadian Event Professional of the Year, Canadian Event Industry Awards

  • 2010
    Alumni Award of Distinction, Ryerson University

Hala is an event industry thought leader and an international award-winning event producer with over 20 years of experience, yet is still young at heart. Those around her often say her eyes sparkle. She is naturally curious and creates excitement and finds inspiration wherever she goes.

Hala began her career at SickKids Foundation where she developed her passion for events. Later, as Chief Development Officer for Children’s Aid Foundation she honed her fundraising skills and became a Certified Fundraising Executive. Though she loved her 13 years in the not-for-profit sector, she was always drawn back to event planning and started hala inc. in 2004. Building on the success of hala inc., in 2015 she launched Hala Luxury Weddings & Milestone Celebrations, offering an array of specialty services to clients planning private or social events.

Quickly earning a reputation for delivering events that are equally strategic, fabulously creative and flawlessly executed, she always raises the bar. She is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences and has established educational programs at both Ryerson University and Humber College where she has also taught the curriculum. Valued for her teaching techniques and experience she has also been brought in to train internal event teams at various organizations.

Her secret to success? Surrounding herself with talented, energetic event producers and collaborating with some of the most creative people in the business, in Canada and around the world.

In her spare time she likes to swim, bike and run, completing an Ironman in 2004 and loves to ride her motorcycle. She also volunteers her time as a contributing editor to Canadian Special Events Magazine.

HALA’S FAVOURITE STORY:

I have two favourites: first, The Princess Bride—I have always believed in fairy tales with happy endings. Secondly, Love Actually—it is the greatest modern Christmas movie—it’s the perfect mix of sweet & salty, making me both laugh & cry. I watch it every year during the holidays without fail.

DISCOVER THE TEAM
BEHIND EVERY STORY

Cynthia Leong
Cynthia Leong
EVENTS ASSISTANT
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MEET CYNTHIA

Cynthia was born to be a planner. All through High School and University, she was planning events for her friends, family, and schoolmates. After recently graduating from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Hospitality and Tourism Management, she decided to follow her dreams and pursue a career in events.

She is a highly motivated individual with a strong work ethic. Cynthia has a wonderful disposition and a “can-do” attitude which is appreciated by all who come into contact with her. Cynthia plays a key role at hala inc. ensuring the team is on track.

When it comes to her favourite past-time, she enjoys trying out new foods with great company! She also loves to ski, skate and swim.

Favourite Story: Cinderella– Cinderella has been my favourite story since I was young. Despite her stepsisters treating Cinderella awfully, I really admired her persistence in never giving up. This story taught me that dreams will come true through hard work and determination.

Danielle Yu
EVENT PRODUCER
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MEET DANIELLE

Since joining hala inc., Danielle has had the opportunity to work on international award-winning events like the ROM Centennial Ball and The Book Lover's Ball.

Danielle’s critical eye for detail and her technology expertise make her an asset to any project. Her experience managing complex logistical events and her ability to overcome any obstacle with professionalism and poise sets her apart.

Danielle holds a Bachelor degree from the University of Waterloo and a Certificate in Fundraising and Volunteer Management from George Brown College.

Danielle is also an active volunteer, currently serving on the Board of Directors for the TD Markham Jazz Festival. Danielle’s favourite past-time? Watching the Toronto Blue Jays in action.

Favourite Story: My favourite story is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. It is a multi-layered tale suitable for all ages with a hopeful message that even when things may seem bad, they can be made better with a bit of love, care and attention.

Erika Larva
FASHION PRODUCER
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MEET ERIKA

Erika doesn’t believe in “Take 2”. With her work, there’s only one chance to get it right, and she takes that responsibility seriously.

Featured in KA Magazine as the “Best of Canada” in her trade, Erika has been behind the scenes creating fabulous top brand fashion shows for the past 25 years; in addition to styling numerous celebrities and designer collections.

Erika’s creative vision, impeccable sense of style, passion, and sophistication are the driving force behind many hala inc. events including the Canadian Liver Foundation’s LIVERight Gala, ROM’s Centennial Ball; and the Toronto Public Library Foundation’s Book Lovers Ball.

Erika loves to cook (and feed all of us) and takes long walks to stay in shape.

Favourite Story: There is always a song each year or season that touches me and reminds me of the magic and power of love. The movie La La Land was magical for me and its song City of Lights makes me happy and reminds me how beautiful love is and feels.

Marta Urbanowicz
DÉCOR DIRECTOR
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MEET MARTA

Marta possesses endless creativity and a flair for the unexpected. She is known for elaborate, distinctive designs. She has an innate ability to connect with clients and loves to push them out of their comfort zone.

Marta graduated from OCAD University with a focus in Creative Advertising. She has brought her unique touch to countless events for hala inc. including the ROM’s Centennial Ball, McMichael’s Moonlight Gala and Tim Horton Children’s Foundation’s Black Tie Gala.

In 2015 Marta received the first-ever Emerging Industry Leader Award at the Canadian Special Events Industry Awards. She also teaches event design at Seneca College and loves it. When she isn’t working she loves to play volleyball and believes that a rockin' Saturday night consists of sitting on her cloud sofa (if you don't know what that is, you haven't lived!!) with a white wine spritzer in her hand and her sister's dog Bubbles in her lap!

Favourite Story: Legally Blonde - Elle Woods teaches us so many valuable lessons! Don't always believe in first impressions, never let anyone tell you you're not smart enough, don't spend your time with anyone who makes you feel less than you are, never be afraid of a challenge, and always have faith in yourself!

Nikki Overholt
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
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MEET NIKKI

Hailing from the Land Down Under, Nikki has lived and worked in several different countries around the world. Having worked on projects with Rugby Canada, Niagara Film Festival, Luminato, i4C, Oktoberfest and the Toronto Olympic Bid, she brings years of diverse event experience to hala inc.

Nikki holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science from University of Toronto, and a Business Communications Certificate from Ryerson University.

She is an excellent communicator, refreshingly creative and a highly resourceful problem solver. Her strength in building relationships serves her well in cultivating new business for hala inc.

Nikki loves to do yoga, paddle boarding and kayaking in her spare time.

Favourite Story: I’m more of a book person and an insatiable reader, particularly historical works. If I had to watch one movie twice it would have to be Elizabeth Town. It has the perfect mix of humour, love, loss and learning that make life worth living. Plus it has a killer soundtrack.

Sushi
OUR MASCOT
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MEET SUSHI

Sushi is sure she is actually the CEO of hala inc. She takes great pride in keeping the team hard at work, barking with authority when any team member wanders from the office without purpose. When not patrolling the hallways, she can be found in the lounge area keeping the couch warm.

She is a cautious judge of character but once Sushi gets to know you, she is a loyal friend and colleague. Hala relies on her for moral support and creative direction, and our clients have come to value and respect her position as well. Next to Kristi, Sushi also provides the most comic relief.

Favourite Story: Marley and Me. Marley reminds me of me. He is high-strung, boisterous and endlessly hungry. He routinely fails to “get” what is expected of him. I feel the same say sometimes. Marley has a Heart of Gold and so do I. Marley is seen sometimes as not so smart. I can relate. At the end of the day like Marley, I’m always forgiven for my mischievous behaviour.

Kelly Mathews
OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
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MEET KELLY

Kelly has over 20 years of operational experience and is highly analytical which makes her great at her job.

Kelly attended York University where she earned a degree in Kinesiology & Health Science, as well as a Certificate in Sport & Event Administration. She is also fully certified as an Advanced Medical First Responder (AMFR).

She has managed many highly complex logistical events for hala inc. including Oxfam’s Trailwalker and the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation’s National Father’s Day Run that took place in 4 cities across Canada simultaneously. Kelly is multi-talented having also written a book entitled Eaton Hall: Pride of King Township. She loves to play sports and is highly competitive. Trust us, you don’t want to mess with her.

Favourite Story: Wild—I admire strong women and I appreciate not only the physical strength but the mental strength of character required to complete 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (alone) but also to come out on the other side a more complete individual. Cheryl Strayed's willingness to hurt and face her demons is so admirable and inspiring. Only when we are uncomfortable can we grow.

Carol Forrest
ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCER
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MEET CAROL

Carol is the creative director; choreographer and costume designer for our award-winning productions. She takes an innovative and colourful approach to all aspects of live entertainment.

She has carefully curated original productions for the Canadian Liver Foundation’s LIVERight Gala, the ROM’s Centennial Ball; the Toronto Public Library Foundation’s Book Lovers Ball, Canadian Stem Cell Foundation’s Renew the World and the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Spark and Teddy Bear Affair.

Carol is a graduate of the Ryerson University Theatre School and began her professional dance career as a member and soloist with the National Tap Dance Company of Canada.

Carol loves personal training and teaching fitness – Zumba, Bootcamp, Rock Body and Step. Yes she is fit.

Favourite Story: On The Town - Gene Kelly rocks and Nightmare on Elm Street – I love old school SFX makeup.

IT IS BOTH HUMBLING AND AN IMMENSE HONOUR TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED BY OUR PEERS FOR EXCELLENCE IN EVENT PLANNING.
hala inc. IS ONE OF THE MOST AWARDED EVENT FIRMS IN NORTH AMERICA WITH 50 NOMINATIONS, 10 INTERNATIONAL AWARDS AND 7 NATIONAL AWARDS.
INTERNATIONAL LIVE EVENTS ASSOCIATION ESPRIT AWARDS
2016 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production Budget Over $75,000 USD – The Book Lover’s Ball 10th Anniversary 2015
2013 Winner of Best Industry Contribution, Ryerson University’s Applied Event Planning and Management Course – Hala Bissada, CFRE
2013 Winner of Best Event for a Non-Profit Organization Budget Over $200,000 – The Book Lover’s Ball 2012
2013 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production Budget Over $75,000 – The Book Lover’s Ball 2012
2013 Nomination for Best Social Event Budget Over $75,000 – The Book Lover’s Ball 2012
2009 Winner of Best Videography – Oxfam Trailwalker 2009
2009 Winner of Best Entertainment Production – LIVERight Gala 2009
2006 Winner of Best Social Planning Event Budget Over $100,000 – An Enchanted Evening 2005
2006 Nomination for Best Corporate Event Budget Over $100,000 – An Enchanted Evening 2005
2004 Winner of Best Corporate Event Budget Over $100,000 – Teddy Bear Affair 2003
2004 Winner of Best Social Event Budget Over $100,000 – Teddy Bear Affair 2003

SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE GALA AWARDS
2016 Nomination for Best Event Entertainment Concept & Execution Budget $25,000-$100,000 – The Book Lover’s Ball 10th Anniversary 2015
2013 Winner of Best Fundraising Event – The Book Lover’s Ball 2012
2008 Nomination for Best Achievement in Logistics – Teddy Bear Affair 2006
2006 Winner of Best Fundraising Event – An Enchanted Evening 2005

CANADIAN EVENT INDUSTRY STAR AWARDS
2017 Nomination for Event Professional of the Year – Hala Bissada, CFRE
2017 Nomination for Most Outstanding Event up to $200,000 – Laugh Out Loud 2016
2016 Winner of Best Event Produced for a Community Based Charitable Organization – The Kaleidoscope Ball 2015
2016 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production – The Kaleidoscope Ball 2015
2016 Nomination for Most Outstanding Event Budget Over $200,000 – The Kaleidoscope Ball 2015
2015 Winner of Best Event for a High Profile Charity – The ROM Centennial Ball 2014
2014 Winner of Best Fundraising Event – The Book Lover’s Ball 2013
2014 Nomination for Best Event for a High Profile Charity – The Book Lover’s Ball 2013
2014 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production – The Book Lover’s Ball 2013
2014 Nomination for Most Outstanding Event Budget Under $100,000 – Ultimate Food Challenge 2013
2014Nomination for Most Outstanding Event Budget Over $300,000 – The Book Lover’s Ball 2013
2014 Nomination for Event Professional of the Year – Hala Bissada, CFRE
2013 Winner of Most Outstanding Event Budget $100,000-$300,000 – The Book Lover’s Ball 2012
2013 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production – The Book Lover’s Ball 2012
2013 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production – Renew the World 2012
2013 Nomination for Best Event Produced for a High Profile Charitable Organization – Renew the World 2012
2013 Nomination for Best Fundraising Event – The Book Lover’s Ball 2012
2013 Nomination for Best Fundraising Event – Renew the World 2012
2013 Nomination for Most Outstanding Event Budget Over $300,000 – Renew the World 2012
2012 Winner of Event Professional of the Year – Hala Bissada, CFRE
2011 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production – Teddy Bear Affair 2010
2011 Nomination for Event Produced for a High Profile Charitable Organization – Teddy Bear Affair 2010
2011 Nomination for Most Outstanding Logistical Achievement – Teddy Bear Affair 2010
2010 Nomination for Best Entertainment Production – LIVERight Gala 2009
2010 Nomination for Best Event Produced for a Charitable Organization – Oxfam Trailwalker 2009
2009 Winner of Best Sporting Event – Oxfam Trailwalker 2009
2006 Nomination for Best Fundraising Event – An Enchanted Evening 2005
2004 Winner of Best Fundraising Event – Teddy Bear Affair 2003

ASSOCIATION FOR HEALTHCARE PHILANTHROPY (AHP) DEVELOPMENTAL SHOWCASE AWARD
1995 Winner of Special Events – Miracles in Motion 1993

RYERSON UNIVERSITY ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
2010 Winner of Ryerson University Alumni Award of Distinction – Hala Bissada, CFRE
2015 Winner of Ryerson University Alumni Achievement Outstanding Volunteer Award – Hala Bissada, CFRE

REGIONAL AWARDS
2009 Winner of Festivals and Events Ontario’s Best New Festival or Event – Oxfam Trailwalker 2009
2007 Winner of Festivals & Events Ontario’s Best Fundraising Idea – Teddy Bear Affair 2006
2006 Winner of Festivals & Events Ontario’s Most Innovative Sponsorship – An Enchanted Evening 2005
2006 Winner of Festivals & Events Ontario’s Best Fundraising Idea – An Enchanted Evening 2005
2006 Winner of Festivals & Events Ontario’s Best New Festival or Event – An Enchanted Evening 2005

OUR ACHIEVEMENTS ARE MADE POSSIBLE BY OUR WONDERFUL CLIENTS

OUR ACHIEVEMENTS
ARE MADE POSSIBLE BY
OUR WONDERFUL CLIENTS



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