carleton women in business conference

a world of opportunities



Carleton University Women in Business’ Conference: A World of Opportunities is welcoming over 200 attendees making it our biggest and most anticipated event of the year. This conference is geared towards both students and professionals and will feature an honorary speaker, keynote speakers and discussion panels – including speakers of various backgrounds. They will be sharing insight on their professions and industries as well as their advice and inspiration on how to overcome inequalities, and how to grow and thrive in the business world.

Our conference will offer a multitude of networking opportunities with renowned business owners and company representatives. We will further be presenting awards and gratuities to our CUWIB business venture competition winners, sponsors and speakers. A variety of female owned small businesses based in Ottawa will be selling their products and services at our event to show our support towards locally owned businesses and to help promote their personal enterprises, as well as educate, encourage, and inspire fellow women to inaugurate successful businesses of their own.





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Honorary Speaker



Mary Anne Carter

Senior Consultant, Government Relations for Environics Communications

Mary Anne Carter has a unique talent for combining the interpretation of law and political imperatives to find new and innovative ways to help clients at Environics Communications. She has advanced knowledge of government policy, and holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the University of Ottawa.

Prior to joining Environics, Mary Anne worked at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in Canada representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy. She was the legal policy director at the Chamber, and managed the business and competition law policy committees, while overseeing the tourism file. Mary Anne also directed the Chamber’s international arbitration committee, which is Canada’s national committee to the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris.

 Mary Anne’s professional experience spans the industry association world; having previously worked in the mental health and international legal sectors in Ottawa and Washington, DC. Her combined love for politics and law has led her to spearhead national and international legal research projects, while continuing to facilitate several multi-partisan political conferences and workshops focusing on all levels of Canadian government.

Wearing many hats, Mary Anne volunteers with the National Arts Centre’s Southam Club, and has been a mentor with the Carleton University Alumni Mentorship program for the past three years. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Government Relations Institute of Canada (GRIC), and Equal Voice – a national, multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to all levels of government in Canada.



President Emeritus of United Nations Women Canada Board of Directors, CEO of Almas Jiwani Foundation

Almas Jiwani – President and CEO of Almas Jiwani Foundation – President emeritus of UN Women Canada; Internationally renowned speaker & Philanthropist. The Audacious Catalyst and Epitome for Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment. She is internationally renowned for her efforts to encourage women’s social, economic, and political empowerment. She spearheads initiatives where corporate growth intersects with humanitarian development.

A model of perseverance and determination, Ms. Jiwani’s efforts to strengthen women’s economic capacity as entrepreneurs and producers have earned her accolades. She plays a crucial role in building networks among charitable institutions and socially responsible businesses.

Ms. Jiwani is a powerful and influential speaker and she continues to travel across the globe to deliver keynote addresses, speeches, and presentations on improving the status of women. She addressed over 400 parliamentarians from 42 countries on the benefits of economically empowering women and the roles and responsibilities of parliamentarians at the International Assembly in the Dominican Republic and Quebec City. More recently, she addressed the Pan Africa Media Conference, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, World Bank, Women in Leadership Forum in Abu Dhabi, African Development Bank conference, and the World Forum alongside Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and holistic health/New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

She is CEO of Frontier Canada, a communications and marketing company based in Toronto, Ontario. In 2013, Ms. Jiwani was appointed as a member of Magna Carta Canada honorary committee alongside with former Country Prime Ministers and high level political dignitaries. She was also appointed as good will Ambassador of the World NGO. In 2012, Ms. Jiwani made history as a state visitor in Pakistan when she addressed one million women on gender inequality. In June 2012, she was appointed as a Global Ambassador of Peace by the Universal Peace Federation. She is a member of the Global Advisory Board of Women in Leadership – NASEBA Corporation in the Middle East and Dean, Faculty of Law at Istanbul University in Turkey, Pamoja Kenya Mentorship Alliance, Enerdynamic and Global Warming Prevention Technologies.

Ms. Jiwani has gained international recognition and commendations from governments and the media:
• In a letter sent to the UN Women Headquarters, Ms. Jiwani received praise from the Prime Minister of Uganda for her contributions to promote gender equality in Africa.
• In April 2012, Ms. Jiwani partnered with the government of Indonesia to help draft a bill and develop and implement gender equitable policies in the country.
• She has been interviewed by Peter Mansbridge, chief correspondent of CBC News, on “One on One” and Steve Paikin of TVOs “The Agenda”. She has also been interviewed on CTV, Rogers TV, and OMNI TV networks.
• Nation Media from Africa has featured Ms. Jiwani’s speeches, interviews, and achievements on several occasions.
• LifeStyles published an extensive interview highlighting Ms. Jiwani’s achievements and passion for global gender equality, R.S.V.P. Magazine published a multiple-page editorial on Ms. Jiwani’s work, and Women’s Post declared Ms. Jiwani a “Woman to Watch”.
• Sync Magazine featured cover story with in-depth interview.
• In a recent interview with CBC, senior business correspondent Amanda Lang said of Almas Jiwani, “She is a force of nature…evidence of how much power an individual can have is in Almas. The things that she’s capable of doing, the people she brings together, the fact that she just spoke to a million people in Pakistan… And she spoke to us in so many languages…”

Almas Jiwani has been honored with numerous Awards globally for her work on gender equity and women’s empowerment:
• Naseba’s Women In Leadership Award, UAE – 2015
• Anokhi Media “Excellence in Crusading for Women’s Right” Award – 2015
• Rehma “Champion of Gender Equality” 2014
• International Women Development Champion – India 2014
• Woman Inspire award – Canadian Council of Muslim Women – Toronto 2013
• Outstanding contribution to Juvenile Delinquency Canadian Report, Istanbul, Turkey 2013
• Gender, Environment & Sustainability – GWPT, Toronto 2013
• African Women in Leadership Excellence Award – Nigeria 2013
• MDG Meritorious Award – Women Advancement -South Africa, 2013
• International African Women Development Award – Paris, France, 2013
• Woman of Courage Award (former recipients: Jane Fonda, Erin Brockovich)- Toronto 2013
• Champion of Diversity – Women of Influence, Toronto 2012
• Tribute Award for outstanding contribution to Gender Equality – Rogers’ Immigration talk show 2012
• Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal – 2012
• Global Ambassador of Peace – 2012
• Women to Watch in 2012
• Tribute Award -Salon International de la Femme 2011
• International Humanitarian Award – Uganda – 2010
• Commemorative Stamp, Government of Greece – 2010
• Artemis Goddess Award, Government of Greece – 2010
• Induction into Women’s Hall of Fame- Greece – 2010
• Women of Week – Toronto – 2010
• United Nations Fund for Women “Life Time Honorary Member” Award – 2009
• Governor General’s Caring Award, Governor General of Canada – 2008
• Women of Substance Recognition, Africa International Trade Conference – 2007
• 15 Years of Voluntary Service, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration – 2006
• “The Stone in Water Award” From Minister of Foreign Affairs for successful execution of the National
• Afghan Women Roundtable, and the report from the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security – 2005


victoria lennox

Co-Founder and CEO of Startup Canada, Founder of NACUE, Catalyst of Startup Nations, Co-Founder and Chair of Startup Generations, Consultant, Advisor and Speaker of Entrepreneurship et al.

Victoria has a track record of stimulating public discourse and developing meaningful political and policy inroads to advance the entrepreneurship agenda. She is an expert in entrepreneurship policy, building enterprise networks (national, communities and campuses), catalyzing movements and ecosystem governance.

Victoria is the co-founder of Startup Canada, Canada’s first-ever, entrepreneur-led, national movement. Victoria is the catalyst of a national grassroots network of local Startup Communities;,, and among other high-impact, national programs – recognized by PROFIT Magazine as one of Canada’s Top 30 entrepreneurs in 2012.

Victoria is the first Canadian and one of the youngest recipients of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion on the recommendation of the British Prime Minister. Victoria won the award for having pioneered a grassroots youth entrepreneurship movement in the UK. Since founding NACUE, today it is the centerpiece of the UK’s youth entrepreneurship ecosystem, supporting more than 55,000 higher and further education students and graduates across more than 100 institutions.

On the global stage, Victoria participates actively in entrepreneurship & innovation policy discussions – e.g. UNCTAD, G8, APEC. As the catalyst for Startup Generation and host of Startup Nations, Victoria supports and mentors the development of youth enterprise organizations in more than 20 countries; provides advisory support to international organizations in the areas of entrepreneurship networks, education and policy development; and supports colleges and universities in enhancing their entrepreneurial activities.

In 2009, Victoria was awarded the SFEDI ‘Enterprise Support Network Builder Award’, ‘Overall Enterprise Champion of the Year Award’ and was recognized as a ‘Champion of Entrepreneurial Britain’, ‘Top 30 Under 30’ by Real Business Magazine and ‘One to Watch’ by Spectator Business.



andrew irvine

Head of Canadian Commercial Banking & BMO Partners, Bank of Montreal Financial Group

Andrew Irvine is the Head of Canadian Commercial Banking & BMO Partners. He is responsible for delivering market leading revenue, client loyalty and risk performance in the Commercial business while at the same time leading the BMO Partners enterprise-wide innovation and partnership function.

Prior to his current mandate, Andrew led BMO’s Transaction Banking and Commercial Payments business as well as BMO’s digital and physical channels group. Before joining BMO, Andrew was an Associate Principal in McKinsey & Company’s Toronto office and prior to that was an Investment Banker in London, England.  

 Andrew sits on the Board of Directors of Moneris Corporation as Chair of the HR Committee and on the Board of Directors of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, one of the Top 5 Cancer centers in the World. He is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of Camp Oochigeas, a privately-funded, volunteer-based organization that supports kids affected by childhood cancer. Andrew is also a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Andrew has an undergraduate degree with honours in Business Management from King’s College London, England and a Master of Business Administration with distinction from the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario.




kelly mccarten

Senior Vice President, Mosaic Sales Solutions

With over 20 years experience, Kelly has worked both client and agency side delivering profitable growth, building brands, and driving market share.  She worked for Coca-Cola for 10 years and was successful leading their Coke Retail Business Unit and managing all of their sports properties.      

She then started her own company working with start-ups to multi-national companies for 6 years winning awards for the integrated campaigns she lead for Heart and Stroke Foundation.  She was then sought out to run LAUNCH! Brand Marketing as CEO.  She turned the business around and sold it 2 years later to Acosta Mosaic Group, the largest Retail and Experiential agency in Canada.   

Kelly is currently, SVP of Acosta Mosaic Group, running the largest Retail Business Unit, Board Director with University of Guelph Alumni. She was also a professor at Humber College for 2 years for Marketing.

Guest speaker at University of Toronto Rotman School of Business, University of Guelph, Humber College and George Brown College.



Partner Growth Manager, Shopify

Courtney launched and runs Shopify’s Ottawa-based marketing team. She started an industry-leading design blog, built out international design and entrepreneurship awards programs, and is focused on building a strong network of third-party app developers and website designers who work with Shopify. Her daily work life includes leading a team of marketers and finding exciting new marketing opportunities, like launching an accelerator program giving away office space and mentorship to Shopify Partners in Austin, New York City, Montreal, and London, England. 

While Courtney has a dedication to digital marketing and communications, her real passion is writing. Moving to Ottawa to complete a Bachelor of Journalism degree at Carleton University, she next completed her Bachelor of Education Degree before heading to Australia for awhile to write her first novel, which she self-published after moving back to Ottawa.

Prior to joining Shopify, Courtney worked as a journalist, beginning in community news and moving on to become the technology reporter at the Ottawa Business Journal. This gig introduced her to all of Ottawa’s notable tech companies, one of which was Shopify. During one of those crazy life moments where all opportunities appear at once, Courtney was offered both the position of editor at the Ottawa Business Journal, and the opportunity to start a marketing team at Shopify’s Ottawa headquarters. In the end, Courtney decided on the international experiences that Shopify could offer, and joined the team at Canada’s tech darling.

Since being hired by Shopify, Courtney has more than doubled the number of new Shopify Partners that sign up for its Partner Program every week, and built a blog from scratch that now sees hundreds of thousands of page views and visitors each month. On top of leading the Partner Marketing Team, Courtney also helps run the Build a Business Competition, Shopify’s annual challenge to entrepreneurs to start a business from scratch and sell as much as they can in an eight-month period. This competition has led Courtney to interview celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss, and Ariana Huffington, and has allowed her to join the winners on their prize retreats at locations like Branson’s private island, Necker Island, and the Oheka Castle on Long Island, also known as the Great Gatsby mansion.

To keep her love of writing alive, Courtney has taken on several personal projects, including the 100 Day Challenge where she wrote a haiku every day for 100 days and shared it on Instagram. She is currently working on a second novel, the first draft of which she wrote during National Novel Writing Month in November. Courtney is an avid reader, and lives in a log cabin south of the city that is big enough to house all of her books.


Marketing Manager, Grade A and Social Media Influencer and Expert (+70K LinkedIn Followers)

Michaela graduated from Carleton University with Bachelor of Arts degree (with distinctions) with a major in legal studies, and a minor in psychology. Michaela currently works as the marketing manager at Grade A, a technology support company based in Ottawa, and has been thriving in the content marketing community over the past 7 years.

In March 2016, Michaela’s article about landing her dream job went viral on Linkedin. Since then, she has replicated her viral success with multiple articles about her experiences in the business world. Recently, her article, “It’s Called a Life not a Life Sentence”, was picked by CNBC, and has amassed over 10,000 shares. Since then, Michaela’s articles have been featured and published in CNBC, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, The Muse, PR Daily, and more.

Armed with just a tiny dry erase board and her writing skills, Michaela has gained over 70,000 LinkedIn followers in the past year. The story of her rise to social media influencer and published writer in less than a year has been covered by The Huffington Post.

In Ottawa, Michaela currently sits on the advisory committee for the Ottawa Network for Education and the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa’s Awesome Auction, and works as a Community Connector for the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services. She regularly speaks at high schools and colleges, sharing her advice on networking and the power of personal branding in today’s digital landscape.

In her spare time, Michaela is working on a memoir based on her career advice, experimenting live video on Instagram and Facebook, and working on a LinkedIn video course. Michaela also hosts monthly video sessions for her female entrepreneur group, “Women Rising”, with the goal to help other women achieve similar success in the online world. 


Vice President of Corporate Brand Marketing, Loblaws

Cheryl brings an impressive background in marketing and strategy to her VP of Corporate Brand Marketing position at Loblaw. In this role, Cheryl leads marketing for brands such as Presidents Choice and No Name as well as Life Brand, Quo and Shoppers Drug Mart Love You. Prior to joining Loblaw, Cheryl held senior roles at some of the country’s most innovative ad agencies and contributed to building some of the world’s great brands. 

Cheryl left the advertising world to pursue her love of food before joining Loblaw. Inspired by her family and upbringing on a farm in Niagara, she created a family cookbook. She followed that with a Product Development role at the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance – an organization committed to local food and the systems required to ensure its sustainability. At OCTA, Cheryl led research, strategy and product development – when she wasn’t zig zagging her way across the Province to explore new culinary adventures.


Director, Experiential, Fuse Marketing Group Inc.

During the past ten years Aleena has grown up within the ever-evolving Experiential Marketing business. While working with top tier clients on award winning work, Aleena has a key focus on building experiences with integrated strategy to deliver strong engagement and conversion ROI. She drives her clients’ business forward in collaboration with a strong team of account, creative and production problem solvers to build unique experiences. Her role includes leading and motivating a team of dedicated account, staffing, and in field managers to be the face of clients’ brands every day.

Aleena has worked with clients from multiple industries including CIBC, Canadian Tire, Kruger LLB, Audi, Ricola, and Corby Spirit and Wine. In all cases she has lead teams to deliver strong results for these clients in all forms of experiential activity from retail sampling, to high impact events, to street teams and trade shows.


President, Squishy Candy

Currently a board member of DAVIDsTEA (NASDAQ: DTEA), Sarah Segal served as the President and Head of Product Development and Tea Department of DAVIDsTEA from December 2010 to September 2012. In 2013, Sarah founded SQUISH Candy, based in Montreal, Quebec. SQUISH currently operates 9 retail locations and a vibrant ecommerce business. Having worked as a Tea Blender in the early years of DAVIDsTEA, Sarah became inspired to explore the flavor opportunities in the candy market and develop the first artisanal candy store in North America. With a desire to grow a new retail concept whose focus is gourmet gummies, Ms. Segal continually finds ways to improve company approaches and expand SQUISH’s specialized candy assortment.

Ms. Segal received a B.A. in Environmental Health at McGill University and a M.Sc. in Water Science, Policy and Management at Oxford University.



Fiscal Affairs Manager, Philip Morris International

Vasie Papadopoulos has over 12 years of experience working both in the public and private sectors. Vasie spent several years working for two provincial agencies – Metrolinx/GO Transit and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario – and now works as the Fiscal Affairs Manager for Philip Morris International in Canada.

Vasie brings over 14 years of volunteer experience supporting women’s rights and affordable housing.  She first began giving back to her community in early 2002 when she joined Habitat for Humanity International as a volunteer and then as a team leader. Since then she has organized logistics for multiple international trips and raised over $50,000 in support of poverty alleviation.

Her dedication to improving the quality of life for others continued through her works with the Arthritis Society of Canada. She volunteered her time and put her funds-generating ability into full gear having brought in over $14,000 through her participation in two separate marathon events between 2008 and 2011. Since 2014, she is the Canadian Chapter Chair for Building Trust International, a non-profit charity created on the premise of having good design as a core tenant to tackling any social issue and producing skills for problem solving. Since 2015, she has been a board member for Hamilton’s Culture for Kids in the Arts, an organization providing high quality arts experiences to kids by removing financial barriers. In 2016, since was named to board of Habitat for Humanity Hamilton.

In 2014, Vasie founded a volunteer organization called OurWrite. OurWrite strives to allow ‘Every female to be their own superhero’ through building, maintaining and supporting female-centric schools and community centres. Since 2014, OurWrite has helped build and raise funds ($40,000) for 2 educational facilities in Khovd, Mongolia and Oaxaca, Mexico. OurWrite’s goal is to build 5 schools in 10 years, while also building awareness for the right to literacy amongst girls in developing nations.

Vasie’s undergraduate degree is from the University of Ottawa, and she has a Masters degree in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh. She will also be completing her executive MBA degree from Richard Ivey School starting in 2017.

Vasie has also traveled to over 45 countries documenting a lot of them through her travel photography.



Partner in the Risk Advisory Practice, Deloitte

Nina Grimes is a Partner in the Risk Advisory practice of Deloitte.  She has over eighteen years of experience and focuses her time on consulting and assurance services related to internal controls, particularly in more complex IT environments. She is seen as a lead advisor to clients in the area of internal control, CEO/CFO certification, IT risks and controls, and internal control assurance services. 

Nina has substantial experience with internal controls in both the public and private sectors. She has led the assessment of internal controls for several large Federal Government departments and has specific experience working with the COSO framework.  Nina has also conducted numerous internal control assignments for the private sector in order to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or NI 52-109.  She has led the implementation of control programs at public companies and has audited internal controls as an external auditor.  Nina brings lessons learned on how to address risks and internal control requirements in a practical and efficient manner.

Nina also has experience in leading internal audits, working on large transformation and implementation projects, auditing controls at service organizations and conducting risk assessments.    Nina is a Chartered Professional Accountant, a Certified Information Systems Auditor, a Certified Internal Auditor and holds a Certification in Risk Management Assurance.

Nina has been a frequent speaker on topics related to risk and internal controls, including as a sessional lecturer at Carleton University, Sprott School of Business.

Over the past fifteen years, Nina has also volunteered for various Boards and currently volunteers for the Board of a charitable organization whose mission is to assist children with autism obtain early intervention.  



Managing Partner, Ginsberg Gluzman Fage & Levitz (GGFL Chartered Professional Accountants), LLP

Deborah Bourchier is a Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA) with over three decades of experience in public accounting. In 2015, she became a recipient of the Ottawa Businesswoman of the Year award.

In 1979, Deborah began her career as a University of Waterloo co-op student with the Ottawa accounting firm GGFL. Thanks to her skill, judgment, and hard work, she developed a full accounting practice at the firm and became GGFL’s first female Partner in 1994. In 2008, Deborah was elected Managing Partner, one of the first female Managing Partners in all of Canada.

Deborah and her fellow partners have led GGFL to achieve many successes. Over the last 10 years, GGFL has grown steadily to more than 100 full-time employees, is one of the largest locally controlled accounting firms in the National Capital Region, and is among the top 15 independent accounting firms in Canada. As of 2016, GGFL is proud of the fact that 60 per cent of the leadership team are women, including five Partners. Deborah’s leadership at GGFL has had a direct impact on the firm’s evolution.

In addition to her professional life, Deborah plays an active role in the community, having volunteered on the Board of Directors for a number of Non-Profit Organizations including the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, the Ottawa Chartered Accountants Association, and she is currently the Chair of the Board of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation.

Deborah is a married mother of two grown daughters. She balances all of this with an active and healthy lifestyle centered on family, sports, and leisure activities.



Vice President, Growth and Transition Capital – Ontario and Atlantic, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

Susan Rohac is Vice President, Growth & Transition Capital—Ontario and Atlantic. With twenty‑five years’ experience in the financial services, banking and venture capital sectors, Susan provides support and guidance to teams dedicated to client success in the Ontario and Atlantic regions, in addition to leading projects with a national scope. An involved leader, she strives to ensure that BDC provides not only financing but genuine value in terms of insight, counsel and ongoing business guidance. In 2014, Susan was appointed Acting Senior Vice President, Financing and Consulting for Ontario. For the following year, she oversaw BDC’s lending and consulting activities in the province. Committed to her community, Susan sits on the Board and Executive Committee of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa and was part of the Montreal Group with draws on financial institutions and experts from around the world.



Partner, Logan Katz LLP, Chartered Professional Accountants

Anjali Dilawri is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) with 25 years of experience in both public practice and industry.

A graduate of McGill University, Anjali began her career in Montreal, articling as an audit junior with a national CPA firm. Upon obtaining her CPA designation in 1993, she relocated to Ottawa where she continued her career as an audit senior with a national CPA firm. She subsequently made themove to industry in 1996 and joined then telecommunications giant Nortel Networks, where she performed a variety of roles – including financial planning and results analysis, project management, information systems, and training – over a span of seven years. This experience afforded her an opportunity to travel to Nortel offices throughout North America and Europe to provide training and implementation consultation on finance systems software.

In 2004, Anjali made the decision to return to her roots in public practice and joined Logan Katz LLP, Chartered Professional Accountants. For the past 13 years at Logan Katz, she has advanced through progressively challenging roles from Audit Senior to Supervisor, Financial Reporting Services Manager, Assurance Manager, and most recently in 2017, has become the firm’s first female partner. Anjali brings to her new role as Partner a vast reservoir of accounting and assurance experience, serving not-for-profit organizations and private corporations. In addition to assisting her owner/manager clients in both income tax compliance and planning, Anjali has successfully established a team, and the capacity within Logan Katz, to provide clients with the services and advice that increasingly more organizations and businesses depend upon in this evolving economy. 

Personable, passionate and proactive, Anjali creates strong connections and lasting ties with everyone she works with – clients and colleagues alike. Since joining Logan Katz, she has made an already excellent place to work even more so through her leadership and positive, capable approach to professional and inter-personal situations. Internally, Anjali spearheads the firm’s social and community initiatives, oversees quality control, and is active in marketing and public relations efforts. Anjali also currently serves as Treasurer of the Women’s Business Network.

In her spare time, Anjali enjoys writing and spending time with her family.



the honourable pamela wallin

Senator of Saskatchewan

The Honourable Pamela Wallin, O.C., S.O.M. was appointed to the Senate of Canada on December 22, 2008.  Pamela is an Officer of the Order of Canada, this country’s highest civilian honour (2007) and a member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (1999).  She has fourteen Honourary Doctorates and was Chancellor of the University of Guelph.

Pamela served as Canada’s Consul General in New York from 2002-2006, in the wake of the tragic and tumultuous events of 9/11.

Among many other honours, she has been named to the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame; she received a national Visionary Award in Canada; and has been recognized four times by Queen Elizabeth II for her public service and achievements. 

Pamela served as the first Honorary Colonel for the RCAF and has an on-going commitment to the men and women of the military. She traveled to Afghanistan on several occasions and to bases across the country and throughout the U.S.A.  She was one of five eminent persons on the Special Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan who successfully recommended support and airlift for our serving men and women. She is committed to building and enhancing the military/civilian understanding and continues to work with veterans and serves as the Service Officer for her Legion Branch #62.

In 1995, the citizens of her hometown of Wadena, Saskatchewan dedicated a street in her honour, Pamela Wallin Drive.  She is the author of three books, including her best-selling autobiography Since you Asked (1998).

The wide-ranging career of the journalist, diplomat, entrepreneur and Senator has spanned more than nearly 40 years, several continents, and always with a focus on politics and foreign policy.  She worked for CBC radio, the Toronto Star and CTV, where she hosted Canada AM and went on to become the Ottawa Bureau chief, and anchor of the CTV weekend news.  In 1992, she became the first Canadian woman to co-anchor the nightly national television newscast Prime Time News.  In 1995, Pamela founded an independent television company, Pamela Wallin Productions.  Her media background has proved invaluable in her subsequent public service.



Deputy Editor, The Hill Times

Derek Abma has been a journalist since 1999. He has been the deputy editor of The Hill Times since January 2016, and previously spent more than two years as editor of The Wire Report, the HT’s sister publication. He’s worked for Postmedia News, The Ottawa Sun, The Ottawa Business Journal, and the Brockville Recorder and Times. He has done extensive freelance work for outlets such as The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Magazine, iPolitics, and Ottawa Parenting Times, among others. Derek has a diploma in print journalism from Algonquin College, and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carleton University.


leslie quinton

Vice President Corporate Communications, Air Canada

Leslie Quinton was named Vice President, Corporate Communications in May 2016. In this role, she has oversight for all aspects of Air Canada’s corporate and employee communications, corporate image and positioning, social media, and the airline’s Corporate Sustainability Report. She also leads Air Canada’s community investment programs focused mainly on the well-being of children and youth with management oversight for the Air Canada Foundation.

A skilled corporate communications professional, Leslie held senior roles in global strategic communications, stakeholder relations, corporate social responsibility, internal communications, and issues, crisis and brand management prior to joining Air Canada. She was previously Senior Vice-President, Global Corporate Communications at SNC-Lavalin, where she was responsible for all global aspects of reputation management, strategic communications, media and public relations, crisis and issues management and related strategies. She was also Senior Vice-President at Massy-Forget Public Relations where she advised several Fortune 500 clients, and she has taught public relations and corporate communications at McGill University for eight years.

Leslie is involved in several non-profit organizations including MedicAlert and Girl Guides of Canada as a board member and as a volunteer. She is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer at business conferences and universities, as well as having been a guest newspaper, web and radio contributor, and she has won multiple awards for communications and philanthropic leadership. Leslie studied humanities at Concordia University.


Executive Director of Communications, Marketing, Brand and Research, CBC

For more than 30 years, Bonnie Brownlee has provided expert strategic direction in a number of arenas, spanning the corporate, political and entertainment spheres both internationally and domestically.

As a champion of change management and cultural enrichment in the workplace, coaching and mentoring are daily strategic activities for Bonnie. Through her work she has become an expert in harnessing the strength of employees to build teams with exceptional talent, dedication and brand pride.

Early in her career, Bonnie honed her skills in politics as an executive assistant to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mrs. Mulroney. This experience gave her a profound understanding of Canada’s domestic and international positioning, the significance of research and polling information, and a keen sense for public relations and media relations.

She has served as director of communications for the Department of National Defence, director of national media relations for more than twenty Bloomingdale stores in the United States, vice-president of communications for Astral Television Networks, and senior vice-president of corporate communications for CTVglobemedia. For the past three years, she has been working with CBC as the executive director of communications, marketing, brand and research.

She has been an advisor to several high-profile individuals, including The Duke and Duchess of York and the late John F. Kennedy Jr.. As a result of her work with the Royal family, Bonnie has been a Royal commentator for numerous national and international network news organizations for the past two decades.

Bonnie volunteers with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), based out of Washington D.C., a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions. Over the years Bonnie has worked with women’s groups leading workshops focused on building their public profile and enhancing the roles of women in the political process. Her priority has been on building and managing political campaigns and constructing strategic messaging in such countries as Yemen, Kosovo, and Albania.

Bonnie was Chair of the Board of Canada’s Walk of Fame and a past board member of Women In Film and Television (WIFT); the Fundraising board of the Ottawa Heart Institute; the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Canada; Chances for Children; and Children in Crisis.

She is an alumnus of Carleton University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and also holds a graduate diploma from the National Defence College of Canada.


Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, Yellow Pages Group (YPG)

Darby Sieben joined Yellow Pages Group (YPG) in 2006 and was appointed Vice-President of Strategy and Partnerships in 2016.

 With over 20 years of experience in the digital media, marketing and start-up sectors, Mr. Sieben has spearheaded large segments of YPG’s digital transformation, namely its content distribution strategy. This culminated in the eventual launch of YellowAPI, the company’s open data distribution platform. YellowAPI currently has over 3000 freelance and company app developers to populate their local search apps with Yellow Pages listings. The most notable partnership being Yahoo! Canada where, starting in 2012, YellowAPI powered all local search queries across their web, mobile and mapping platforms.

For seven years, Mr. Sieben headed business development and strategic partnerships at YPG. A seasoned negotiator with a keen understanding of the digital media ecosystem, Mr. Sieben delivered successful partnerships key to the ongoing growth and transformation of the company. Under his tenure, YPG grew existing agreements with companies like Google and inked strategic traffic and content sharing agreements, many global firsts, with Yahoo! Canada, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Foursquare, The Weather Network, and CBC.

 In 2013, Mr. Sieben was appointed President of Mediative, YP’s National Agency business, where he lead a team of over 120 digital experts in Canada. During his 2-year tenure with Mediative, he completed the transformatin by restructuring the organization to focus purely on digital growth. In 2016 Mediative grew double-digit revenue growth and returned the business to positive double-digit EBIDTA contribution.

Mr. Sieben also regularly acted as a strategic advisor to YPG’s merger and acquisition activities for, Restaurantica,, Telebec and Northerntel, assisting in an evaluation of their digital assets.

Mr. Sieben has studied Computer Science at Mount Royal College and Business Management at the University of Lethbridge. He remains active as a start-up investor and advisor.


Senior Digital Broadcast Journalist, Global National News

Award-winning journalist Shirlee Engel has been covering national affairs in Ottawa for Global National News since 2008.
Known for her investigative reporting and social media savvy, Engel’s series exposing inequalities for veterans who develop ALS prompted the federal government to change its benefits policy. She was also part of a team that helped shine a light on soaring electricity rates in Ontario, now a top issue at Queen’s Park.

Engel has travelled extensively to cover Prime Ministers, global summits, natural disasters and breaking news – from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to Afghanistan as the Canadian combat mission was winding down.

Engel studied journalism at Ryerson University and political science and economics at McGill University. She began her reporting career as a videographer for A News in Windsor before moving on to reporting and anchoring at Global Toronto and CHCH News in Hamilton.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources (Northumberland-Peterborough South)

Kim Rudd was elected Member of Parliament for the riding of Northumberland-Peterborough South on October 19, 2015, and was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources on December 2, 2015. Ms. Rudd has a long history in her riding both as a local business owner and as a community advocate. She is past president and owner of Willis College – Cobourg, owner of Archer First Aid/CPR and NC Training Inc., and co-founder of a local daycare facility. Ms. Rudd is also an active volunteer within her community. While working with a number of community organizations, she has received much praise, particularly for the integral role she played in attracting eight new physicians to Cobourg, and for her service as President of the Cobourg Chamber of Commerce. Notably, Cameco’s Port Hope Uranium Conversion Facility and Port Hope Fuel Manufacturing Facility are both located in Ms. Rudd’s riding.



Communications Strategist, Invest Ottawa

Sonya Shorey is a communications strategist, management consultant and executive with 15 years of experience in achieving business results through corporate and communications strategies for public, private and non-profit organizations. She brings expertise in regional, national and global science and technology (S&T), entrepreneurial, economic development and innovation-based organizations, and specializes in strategy development and execution for innovation intermediaries.  Asthe Manager of Communications and Organizational Effectiveness, and a Member of the Vice-Presidential Cabinet, with the 10G Organization of Optical Networks for Nortel from 1999 to December 2002, Sonya led the creation and management of multi-site communication and organizational development strategy. This included responsibility for program delivery to more than 1,200 employees spanning three continents (North America, Europe and Asia), executive communications, business strategy and project management.  As the Director of Marketing Communications for CMC Microsystems from 2002 to early 2008, Sonya led the development and implementation of a complete communications and re-brand strategy to support the transformation of the national non-profit technology corporation ($100M+/five years), helping to increase influence, opportunity and investment for long-term sustainability of the organization.  Building on a decade of experience, Sonya launched her own strategy and communications company in April 2008. As the Principal of Sonya Shorey Consulting, she is responsible for the development, implementation and measurement of corporate, communications and marketing strategies for a variety of S&T organizations, economic development and innovation agencies and government departments across Canada, and their partners around the world. This includes the US, Israel, the UK, Brazil, India and China.   Sonya holds a Bachelor of Arts, Combined Honours in English and Political Science from Carleton University.


joëlle  hall

Co-Founder, Dress for Success Ottawa National Capital Region and Investment Advisor, RBC Dominion Securities




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Joelle is one of a group of seven Ottawa women who co-founded Dress for Success Ottawa National Capital Region, in 2010, with a mission to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help them in work and in life. Since opening its doors in 2010, DfS Ottawa has grown from a volunteer run organization to one with 3 full-time staff and 150 active volunteers and has served over 2000 women in our community on their journey to economic independence.

Professionally, Joelle is an investment Advisor with RBC Dominion Securities.  She is a chartered professional accountant with 20 years of professional experience, including six as a tax partner with one of the Big Four firms. She holds an honours degree in economics from McGill University and an MBA from the University of Toronto. Her education background and breath of tax and accounting knowledge enable her to truly appreciate her clients’ circumstances and design financial and investment plans to ensure they have enough to achieve their life goals.

When she is not advising clients or volunteering, Joëlle spends time with her husband and her three children, usually on a soccer field, in a hockey arena or the gym.  She also enjoys cooking and golfing.


Youth Engagement and Social Media Coordinator, Equal Voice Canada

Jillian LeBlanc is the national Youth Engagement and Social Media coordinator for Equal Voice Canada and is currently one of the leads for their Daughters of the Vote initiative in March of this year. In the past Jillian has worked for the Center for International Policy Studies, in the Bilingualism and Diversity wing of Shared Services Canada, as a media representative for Vote Party Canada and as a Constituency Assistant for her Member of Parliament. She has also managed the social media for I Vote-Je Vote a youth engagement organization out of the University of Ottawa which has hosted policy discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Kathleen Wynn, David Suzuki, Thomas Mulcair, Roy Romano and others. She has been a Samara Everyday Political Citizen nominee in 2015 and 2016 and is passionate about youth engagement in political spaces. She believes our democracy can only truly work for us when everyone is represented. Jillian is most likely tweeting at any given moment about #cdnpoli#feminism and #womeninpolitics.



President and Group Publisher, IT World Canada and Chairman, Canadian Channel Chiefs Council

Fawn Annan is a digital publisher and marketing executive whose career has successfully ridden wave after wave of disruption in the publishing and communications industries. Her resume embraces virtually all aspects of communications including documentary films, animation, trade shows, magazines and online publications. She is a recipient of the:

  • 2012 Governor General Award Winner: Innovation Leadership
  • 1997 Vendor of the Year – MISA (Municipal Information Systems Association)

ITWC has won each year from its inception COPA GOLD (Canadian Online Publishing Awards) starting in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. ITWC’s online properties are extensive including:;;;;

In 1995 Ms. Annan joined ITWC as General Manager, Executive Programs, launching the publishing enterprise into C-level events and research projects. She became Publisher of its new Government Portfolio in 1997 which included an online portal, CIO Government Review, and myriad events for the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments. She founded Showcase Ontario and Lac Carling, both platforms to promote and encourage ICT excellence within the Public Service, both showcasing e-government initiatives.

Fawn Annan in 2010 became the President and Group Publisher of IT World Canada, the leading online information resource for Canadian Information and communications technology (ICT) professionals. IT World Canada (ITWC) is the Canadian affiliate of IDG, the world’s largest IT provider, located in 86 countries. When taking the President’s role, Ms. Annan was one of three female country leaders in the IDG network and has been a champion of women’s parity and leadership throughout her years as an executive. In 2014 she became one of three partners of ITWC.

At a time when all established media companies were grappling with new competitive challenges from on-line and mobile communications media, Fawn has helped to chart and successfully execute, alongside ITWC’s CIO and operating partner, a robust digital strategy. Today 100% of its revenues are derived from digital sources. This requires persistent technological vigilance and an ongoing commitment to innovation and life-long learning.

Membership of Professional Associations: Board Member on: ITAC (Information Technology Association of Canada); WCT (Women in Communications and Technology); iCanada Board of Governors; IAB Member (Interactive Advertising Bureau), Chair, C4 (Canadian Channel Chiefs Council); Chief Marketing Council (CMO Council); Past Board Industry Member for Athabasca University, Online MBA Program; Past MISA Board Member representing the Vendor Community (Municipal Information Systems Association).


isabelle perreault

Partner, Blueprint

Isabelle is Partner, Marketing and Digital Transformation at Blueprint. She is an experienced practitioner and strategist combining both business acumen and deep knowledge of all things digital. Isabelle is passionate about technology and how it impacts consumer behavior and business models.  Over the past 17 years, Isabelle has been helping organizations, such as the Ottawa Senators, Giant Tiger, Major League Soccer and the Senate of Canada to leverage technology in order to drive differentiation, improve communications and engagement, increase top line revenue and cut costs. She is a recognized leader in digital business strategy and transformation.

Isabelle is considered a change agent by many of her clients, helping them to tackle the big, bold problems, identifying emerging trends and developing pragmatic solutions today.  Before joining Blueprint, she was VP of the Digital Transformation practice at Stratford Managers and before that she led the marketing and digital strategies at the Ottawa Senators. She is a Board Member of the Ottawa Youth Services Bureau Foundation, sits on the Advisory Committee of Informed Opinions and the Planning Committee for Ringside for Youth, and is a Member of Canadian Women in Communications and Technology, as well as a Past IABC Ottawa President.


Estherlita f. griffiths

Divisional Vice President, Enterprise Architecture & Governance Sears Canada Inc. 

Estherlita Griffiths’ career in Information Technology and strategic leadership spans 25 years, and includes roles in the public and private sectors. Her industry experience includes government (IT Audit), insurance and financial services (IT), retail (IT), sports & entertainment (IT), and not-for-profit (change management, program development & campaign management).

Estherlita has an established track record in strategic planning and execution, change management and governance, business transformation and organizational design, IT architecture and program / project delivery.

Estherlita is a coach, mentor, facilitator and speaker in the areas of strategy, leadership and career / personal development. Her passion and commitment to coaching and mentorship has borne results as mentees have achieved successes as entrepreneurs and in various IT roles. As a member of the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s Information & Communication Technology Skills (CCICT), she made presentations, facilitated discussions with youth, and mentored young women with interests in careers in the Information Technology and Communication fields.

Over the years, Estherlita has leveraged her skills and experiences in leadership, coaching, organizational design, and change management to develop and manage high-caliber teams of IT professionals, and to lead cross-functional teams with significant offshore presence. Her philosophy of intentionally building bridges through communication and collaboration, and pragmatic approach to delivering results in the face of complexity, have led to successful outcomes in change initiatives across various sectors.

Estherlita is currently accountable for governance, strategy and transformation for Sears Canada’s legacy technology platforms. She has served on several not-for-profit boards, and community and faith- based committees, operating in the areas of strategy, governance, change management and community development. She currently serves on the boards of The Wesleyan Church in Canada (Central Canada) and Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, and is a member of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW).

Estherlita holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, and has complemented her formal education with additional training and personal development through The Niagara Institute (Leadership), Prosci (Change Management) and TOGAF (Enterprise Architecture). She is a former Toastmaster, and holds the Competent Communicator (CC) certificate. 



Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Pythian

Paul co-founded Pythian a database infrastructure management, architecture and performance outsourcing company in 1997 and became CEO of the Company in 2005. His passion and foresight for using data and technology to drive business success has helped Pythian become a high-growth global company with over 400 employees and offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Paul is a strong proponent of technical excellence as well as diversity in the workplace. Prior to founding Pythian, Paul worked as a data scientist and he holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Management Information Systems from the University of Ottawa. In 2014 he received the Trudeau Medal from the Telfer School of Management of the University of Ottawa. He was acknowledged as “Top 40 under 40” in 2011 by the Ottawa Business Journal in recognition of Pythian’s growth to that time. 
Vallée is also a notable Basic Income advocate. He serves on the board of directors for the Basic Income Canada Network, Canada’s national basic income advocacy organization.


United Nations Security Delegate to China

Craig Gibson is an international information security leader, architect, and strategist. He has been a security architect of Bell Canada, a Chief Security Architect, a Director of Enterprise Architecture of an international bank, a Crime Commissioner, and a United Nations Security delegate to China.

Craig holds two dozen security certifications primly from United Nations in Information Security Architecture, Privacy Law, Terrorism, and others. He holds seven awards relating to telecommunications security, public safety, and Rule of Law.

As an architect Craig made the security architecture for Bell Canada’s Network 3.0 Software Defined Mobile Networking enterprise transformation and other multibillion-dollar projects. And as a counterterrorism responder, Craig ended attacks on NASA, Federal Governments, 9-1-1, National Defence, Canadian and American Financial Institutions, and a variety of other potentially life-critical events. Craig’s innovations have saved millions of dollars and many lives. Craig has patents pending related to these.



Senior Partner and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada

Sally Gomery is a senior partner and the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada, one of Canada’s leading law firms and part of a global law firm with more than 3800 lawyers and legal professionals worldwide. Ms. Gomery also has a busy litigation practice and chairs NRFC’s Business Ethics and Anti-Corruption team in Canada.

Ms. Gomery has been the driving force behind the recognition within her firm of the business case for diversity and inclusion. She has led many D&I initiatives, including an ongoing review of firm policies and practices, the collection of internal firm demographics, and the development of training on unconscious bias.

Ms. Gomery has served on the boards of not-for- profit organizations supporting youth education and social justice. She is currently a director of SenseAbility, an organization dedicated to promoting work opportunities for persons with disabilities. Ms. Gomery is also a member of the working committee of the Canadian Board Diversity Council, which identifies board-ready candidates from equity-seeking groups, and she serves as Vice-Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.


The Honourable Mobina S.B. Jaffer
Senator for British Columbia

Senator Mobina Jaffer represents the province of British Columbia in the Senate of Canada. Appointed to the Senate on June 13, 2001, she is the first Muslim senator, the first African-born senator, and the first senator of South Asian descent. Senator Jaffer is Deputy-Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence and sits as a member of the Rules, Procedures, and the Rights of Parliament, Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration committees. Senator Jaffer also chaired the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights for 8 years.

Most recently Senator Jaffer chaired a Senate study on the sexual exploitation of children in Canada and the need for national action. A champion of Canada’s linguistic bilingualism, she advocates measures to advance the use of English and French in communities across Canada. As public safety has assumed a significant place in national debate and policy, Senator Jaffer raised awareness on the abuse of profiling in counter-terrorism measures and the fundamental imperative to respect privacy, human rights, and the rule of law. Communities are at the heart of any successful policy initiative and progress; Senator Jaffer works to engage communities in protecting human rights, celebrating Canada’s diversity, and promoting progress.

Senator Jaffer served as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan from 2002 to 2006. From 2002 to 2005, she chaired the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace, and Security. Senator Jaffer is often invited to speak at international conferences on security issues and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which “urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts” and “calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.” As a grandmother, women’s rights and children’s rights are central to Senator Jaffer’s advocacy.

An accomplished lawyer, Senator Jaffer has practiced law at the firm Dohm, Jaffer and Jeraj since 1978. Appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1998, Senator Jaffer was the first South Asian woman to practice law in Canada and she has a distinguished record of service to the legal profession.

The Women’s Executive Network named Senator Jaffer among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate from Open Learning University.

Senator Jaffer earned a Bachelor of Laws from London University in London, England in 1972. She has also completed the Executive Development program at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Born in Uganda, Senator Jaffer speaks six languages and is married with two adult children and two grandchildren.


leigh harris fowell

President, Halo Management Consulting Inc.

Leigh Harris Fowell is President of Halo Management Consulting Inc. a national professional management consulting firm providing advisory services for clients undertaking large-scale complex public and private sector transformation.  Halo MC advises senior government officials and private sector CXOs on how to navigate complex, high-profile enterprise transformation initiatives related to public policy, organization challenges and the innovation agenda.  Prior to this role Ms Harris Fowell served for twelve years at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Canada departing as Vice President Advisory Services.  In that role, she oversaw the development and implementation of public sector industry strategy and the National Service Transformation Practice.

Ms Harris Fowell possesses over 20 years of professional management consulting experience gained as a senior executive in global services firms, and several years in the Government of Canada – at Treasury Board Secretariat and the Privy Council Office providing leadership and a systems design and thinking approach to Federal Government enterprise transformation and management.

Since 2002, Ms Harris Fowell has focused primarily on the organization of government, the reform and renewal of the Public Service, and other issues related to governance and performance.  Prior, Ms Harris Fowell was responsible for providing advice and expertise primarily to private sector clients on matters related to the transformation of their organizations and operations, driven by mergers, acquisitions and corporate reform and restructuring activities.

Ms Harris Fowell specializes in conceptualizing, communicating and implementing innovative business solutions and transformation at the enterprise level across diverse areas of federal government responsibility including defence, agriculture and food, science and research, financial management, real property, funding agreement management and information management and technology; the delivery of government functions and the renewal and operation of central agencies.

Ms Harris Fowell currently serves on the National Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants and the Rideau Club.  Since 2007, Ms Harris has served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health as Chair of the Advocacy, Communication and Marketing tripartite Board Committees, the Strategic and Governance Committee, Chair and Past Chair, Board lead for the Women for Mental Health program and member of the annual Leaders’ for Mental Health Breakfast Committee.
In 2013, Ms Harris Fowell founded Halo Management Consulting and is the recipient of the distinction as one of Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2016.  She has been recognized by her professional consulting peers and clients as well as her community with numerous accolades including a Fellow Certified Management Consultant (FCMC) designation and Forty Under 40 by the Ottawa Business Journal.
Prior to 2007, Ms Harris Fowell was Vice President of Strategy and Federal Public Sector Leader for Hill & Knowlton Canada (now H&K Strategies).  Ms Harris Fowell holds a BA in Political Science from Western University and a Certified Management Consulting designation from the Institute of Management Consultants of Ontario.

Ms Harris Fowell works to bridge private and public sectors through collaborative partnerships through her profession to deliver superior and integrated solutions, in collaboration with her clients, to achieve exemplary results.



Senior General Counsel and Director General Legal Services, Policy, Research and Technology Analysis Branch Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC)

Patricia provides strategic legal and policy advice on a broad range of privacy issues, oversees privacy research and analysis of emerging information technologies, and represents the Privacy Commissioner before courts and Parliamentary Committees.

Patricia has also worked at Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research where she developed and led national strategies to address ethical, legal and social implications of science and technology.  

Prior to moving to Ottawa, Patricia practiced as a lawyer in Montreal for over six years with a large national law firm.   

Patricia graduated in Business and Law from McGill University in Montreal and holds a Masters’ degree in Medical Law and Ethics from the King’s College London, UK.  

Called to the Barreau du Québec in 1993, she has since published and presented extensively on matters of health law, privacy and ethics.  In 2013-14 and 2014-15, she taught part-time at the Common Law section of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa.
Patricia is currently a member of the Board of Governors of The Ottawa Hospital, the Board of Directors of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the National DNA Databank Advisory Committee, and the Research Integrity Committee of the Fonds de recherche du Québec.


dr. jennifer zelmer

President, Azimuth Health Group

Dr. Jennifer Zelmer is President of Azimuth Health Group. In this capacity, she provides a range of advisory services to local, national, and international clients who seek to advance health and health care. In addition, she is the Editor-in-Chief of Healthcare Policy, an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Victoria, and serves on a range of health-related advisory committees and boards.

Prior to founding Azimuth Health Group, Jennifer held a series of progressively responsible leadership positions in Canada and abroad, mostly recently as Executive Vice President at Canada Health Infoway, where she was executive lead for the organization’s national clinical adoption, innovation, consumer health, and communications programs, as well its Ontario investment portfolio. Before joining Infoway, Jennifer served as Chief Executive Officer of the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization and as Vice President at the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Jennifer received her PhD and MA in economics from McMaster University and her B.Sc. in health information science from the University of Victoria.


Pharmacy Manager, Pharmacy Gregoire Arakelian Costco Laval

Wacila Debouk is born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. She obtained her Bachelor in Pharmacy from the University of Montreal in 2001. She quickly integrated herself in the pharmaceutical world by enjoying her new role as a pharmacist in community pharmacy as well as hospital pharmacy. In 2007, after many years of working in different settings, and with the encouragement of family and friends, she acquired a Pharmaprix (Shopper’s Drugmart) location in Laval, Quebec. At 28 years old, she became a proud pharmacy owner. However, disappointed by the working conditions and unable to implement her own ideas, she sold her franchise one year later. At that time, Gregoire Arakelian, also a young pharmacist with entrepreneurial aspirations, was implementing new pharmacies in Costco locations across the province of Quebec. Intrigued by this new venture, she joined Mr. Arakelian’s team and has had since the pleasure of being the pharmacy manager of the Laval location for the past 8 years. Wacila is currently completing her Canadian Diabetes Educator Certification and working on integrating new services at her current pharmacy location. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her twin girls as well as her colleagues whom she counts among her dearest friends. Throughout the years, she has learned that teamwork and true passion for your profession are the most valuable keys to success.





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Chief Business Officer, Thornhill Medical

Lesley brings real life experience in providing innovative solutions for companies in the biotech and healthcare industries, as well as the education space. Her in-depth knowledge of vertically integrated environments allows her to know what works to successfully bring new and shifting business models to market. 

Leveraging her strategic business sense, Lesley is adept at providing a calm approach and multidimensional solutions to complex business issues across multiple sectors. Working with entrepreneurial organizations in the early stages, Lesley has developed considerable expertise in sourcing innovative financing solutions for both working capital and long term strategic development.

Lesley is a CPA , with broad-based financial, C-Suite and M&A experience in technology, biotechnology and the education sector, having held senior financial and operational positions in Thomson Reuters (SVP and CFO of Nelson Education, COO of Meditech International Inc. and CEO of Yconic, an organization focused on providing scholarship information to students).

With her interest in education, youth issues and technology, Lesley currently sits on the board for The Hammer Band, The Spark of Hope Foundation  and is on the Advisory Board for She is a former board member for Yconic and a former Vice President and President of the Board of the Canadian Publishers Council. 


BSc, MD, LMCC, CCFP, DipSportMed CASEM, FCFP, CTH (ISTM), CCPE, Master Cert Phys Leader

From a vocational angle, Dr. Abdulla is a comprehensive family doctor, palliative, sports and travel medicine consultant and assistant professor. He teaches medical students, internationally trained doctors, residents, nurses and nurse practitioners the joys of primary care. He is a well-known consultant for dancers, singers, musicians, models, and celebrities. He is an assistant professor for the Department of Family Medicine and an Academic Consultant Level 1 Faculty of Nursing at University of Ottawa. He was awarded the Family Physician of the Year for Eastern Ontario in 2008.

From a leadership angle, Dr. Abdulla has been involved in the Academy of Medicine Ottawa for 7 years and presently is its past president. He is Chair of the OMA Audit Committee, Vice Chair of the Health Links, Board member of the Section of General and Family Practice of the OMA, and Co-Chair of the Primary Care Network in HLA 6 Champlain. He has worked in leadership roles on community boards like Carleton University and Make A Wish Foundation, Peer Leader for Ontario MD, Health Quality Ontario, Eastern Ontario Regional Lab Association, and The Village of Rockcliffe Foundation. He was awarded the United Way Community Builder Award in 2009.

From an educational angle, Dr. Abdulla has taken extra qualifications in sports and exercise medicine, travel medicine, and the CMA/OMA/Schulich Physician’s Leadership Development Master’s Certificate. He is currently working on designations in chronic pain, addiction and business administration.

From a business angle, he has owned and operated at a retirement home, a sports medicine clinic, a series of walk-in clinics, a medical building, and a multidisciplinary comprehensive care facility with over 100 practitioners. He works as a Physician Champion for the Connecting Ontario Clinical Viewer, medical marijuana prescribing, Medical Assistance in Dying, and Shockwave therapy for Erectile Dysfunction. He is currently working on a large-scale of private and public partnership ventures across Ottawa. He was awarded the Top 40 Under Forty in 2007.

Dr. Abdulla is divorced and has three children, Adil, Iman, and Alim. He happily lives in the nation’s capital, Ottawa. He is a badminton enthusiast, a ballroom dancer, and a movie buff. He is multi-angular in his interests and pursuits.

Finally, from a community engagement angle, he is actively involved in his children’s schools, writing for community magazines and newspapers, organizing educational events for doctors, providing interviews to radio, newspaper and TV.. He used to have a TV show on Rogers community TV called Med Talks. He was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013.


Registered Nurse, CHU Sainte-Justine and Health Canada

Graduated from the University of Ottawa in 2016, Sabrina Di Stefano-Walker has come along way from being a full-time student to being a full-time licensed nurse. She started her career on the pediatric surgery/trauma/burn unit at a hospital in Montreal where she cares for children and their families. Sabrina then pursued public health nursing by joining Health Canada as an occupational health nurse. Currently offering primary and tertiary health care services to the community, Sabrina is passionate about her work. She strongly believes access to education and information is essential to empower Canadians to promote and protect their health.

On her free time, she enjoys taking on new challenges by taking professional development courses as well as dance classes, language training and much more. One thing is for sure, she is definitely leading by example.

#shetalk live interview

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism (Waterloo)

A natural leader and organizer, Bardish Chagger is devoted to inclusion and community building. From assisting with recreational sports for kids to volunteering with seniors, Bardish is committed to strengthening the bonds of the Waterloo community. Bardish was appointed as Leader of the Government in the House of Commons in August 2016.  She was also appointed Minister of Small Business and Tourism in November 2015.

In her role with the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, Bardish has worked to foster diversity within the community providing opportunities for social and economic engagement. As the former executive assistant to former Member of Parliament Andrew Telegdi, Bardish has a deep understanding of the issues that are important to residents of Waterloo, including manufacturing, technology and innovation.

Passionate about community involvement, Bardish has lent her support to many different causes and organizations including The Rotary Club of Waterloo, Interfaith Grand River, and the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin. She considers herself part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms generation, and has participated in policy conferences on many issues including the advancement of same-sex marriage rights and the national manufacturing strategy.

Bardish graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science. In 2012, The Waterloo Region Record recognized Bardish as one of “40 under 40” who would lead the Region of Waterloo into the future.


Senior Vice President Marketing, Evernote

A “Creatively Analytic” Approach

Over a decade leading global SaaS businesses, Andrew has tried just about everything to generate growth. Some of which has work; most of which hasn’t. But through building new products, pivoting to adjacent markets, changing monetization models, spending big on above the line marketing, doubling down on search engine marketing and more, Andrew has developed a repeatable approach to growth that he calls “creatively analytic.” This approach marries big data insights with compelling content to lead users to get the most value from apps, build brand love, increase engagement and lead to paid conversion.

As CMO of Evernote, Andrew is creating an organization using this approach that delivers just the right message at just the right time through owned and earned media. Prior experiences leading marketing at Skype, building a mobile solution business at HP and in a series of web consumer roles from to Google have helped develop and refine the type of organization, people, tools and processes that make this successful. Mostly though, these roles have been chances for Andrew to keep playing with numbers the way he has enjoyed since childhood while still humoring the possibility of writing a book one day.

When he’s not nerding out about SaaS marketing, Andrew is chasing his two kids and the family dog while reminiscing about the days when he and his wife played golf regularly at Stanford business school.



Member of Parliament for Brampton North

Born in Toronto and raised in Brampton, Ruby Sahota is an active member of her local community, and is driven by the desire to give back to her riding of Brampton North.

Before entering politics, Ruby worked as a lawyer, practicing for five years in the areas of criminal law, civil litigation, and dispute resolution in both the public and private sectors, handling a wide range of complex files at the national and international level.

Ruby holds a combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Peace Studies from McMaster University and a J.D. with a concentration in Litigation from Thomas M. Cooley Law School where she was awarded the Blue Book Award in Immigration Law for achieving the highest GPA in her graduating class.

Ruby is a dedicated mother of a three year old and a natural leader, she is passionate about engaging the youth vote, and is experienced in galvanizing people toward a common goal.

As a Member of Parliament, Ruby co-chairs the newly formed all-party Entrepreneurs Caucus and is vice-president of the Canada-India Friendship Group.

Ruby is a member of the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which studies and reports on the rules and practices of the House and its committees. Ruby was previously a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women and the Special Committee for Electoral Reform.

Outside of Ottawa, Ruby believes in being an accessible MP for her constituents, providing mentorship to young people and highlighting the diversity of Brampton North.

mental health discussion: the gift of burnout

In honour of #BellLetsTalk, we are organizing a mental health discussion at our Conference. Let’s start a conversation. Because it matters. Because you matter.

Founder of Be the Change Global, Self-Esteem Expert, Motivational Speaker, Leadership Coach, Show Host and Author

Donna De Luca is on a mission: a mission to inspire people to live their highest potential and most passion-filled life. She is a self-esteem expert, motivational speaker, leadership coach, show host and author.

Donna began her journey in the financial corporate world. As a young mother, she boldly went back to school to pursue interior design. Today she honors what she knows to be her true calling – helping people find passion and purpose in their careers, business, relationships, and life. 

She leads an innovative and creative youth leadership program BE THE CHANGE GLOBAL that focuses on personal, professional and social cultural development. She envisions creating a commYOUnity with a sense of union from ME to WE.

Donna is a firm believer that she is here to make a difference with her given gifts and talents. A humanitarian at heart, a keen intuitive, and a dedicated single mother. Donna has a passion that’s contagious, a trademark smile that’s infectious, and an enthusiastic spirit that awakens a true desire to thrive!



Montrealer, December Rose, recently released a full-length album entitled “Inside Out”, through California based record label “Invitation Records”. The entire album concept was something very personal to her and is resonating with listeners. She trained with the Royal Conservatory of Music in piano and voice, – which has awarded her 2 silver medals for voice performance), – as well as earned her university degree in classical voice. Building her music and brand from the ground up, Rose aims to empower and inspire women around the world through her work.