2019 Women of Inspiration Award Recipients
Congratulations to all our 2019 Women of Inspiration Award Recipients!
Looking forward to the journey ahead to lead, inspire and motivate!
2020 Women of Inspiration Award – Nominations open January 1, 2020, across Canada!
Unstoppable Tracy - 2019 Women of Inspiration Change Agent Award
Unstoppable Tracy - Expert on Disarming Limiting Beliefs, International Award-Winning Leader & Speaker, TV Host & Bestselling Author
A Woman of Inspiration fosters understanding and conviction. those around her know what’s expected of them and others and in this world and are compelled and influenced to agree because they feel a meaningful value to jump on board and activate change together. Unstoppable Tracy
You are going to be blown away …not only is she a powerhouse from inspiration and motivational standpoint after over 50 million views 2019 this woman is also a powerhouse in business. TV Show host Unstoppable Tracy is a #1 international mega-success and TEDX speaker who spoke in 40+ countries. She has shared the stage and events with Dr. Phil, Jane Fonda, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, John Travolta and dozens of more A-listers! Her mind-blowing story always gets standing ovations pushing audiences out of their limitation zones to taking action.
Tracy has been in magazines such as in OPRAH’s “O” and Chatelaine and on covers like Thrive and in Business Booster Today as well as seen on ABC, BBC, CBC and many more globally around the world … As 2018/19's #1 Transformational Leader Global Female by the John Maxwell Team out of 160 countries… she has represented companies such as Air Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Uber in times of crisis …where Tracy became a major disruptor of normal, resulting in out-performing the stock market.
She has climbed the Himalaya Mountains and captained tall ships in the Eastern Atlantic and a decorated world cup athlete in a male-dominated sport of sailing who has lived as a Premier Awarded Humanitarian in developing countries such as Uganda, Nepal, Mexico and Jamaica to name only a few!!!
Tracy is both a Best-Selling Author on Amazon and with her Publisher of the book ‘Unstoppable YOU; Delivering the Limitless Secret’ endorsed by Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul!
To top it all off... if she is not incredible enough in Business, as a Humanitarian, as a World Cup Sailor and a mountain climber … she was also born a 4-way amputee with no hands and no legs, no problem.
Larry Goerzen - 2019 Women of Inspiration SupportHER Award
Rogers Communications Inc - President of Alberta & Prairies
Women who take the initiative to pursue their passions and create opportunities for themselves and other women to follow in their footsteps are true Women of Inspiration.
Larry Goerzen is the President of Alberta & Prairies at Rogers Communications Inc and is a champion of women & diversity in the workplace. Rogers supports a regional strategy that accelerates growth to meet the local economy with the focus on people, particularly women, to act as catalysts for change. Under Larry's leadership, the Rogers Women's Network has formed, an internal network that connects like-minded employees to develop the experiences, relationships, and skill sets that empower us to navigate our careers on our own terms while giving back to the community we live in. As an excellent listener and with a kind nature, Larry gives us the courage and confidence to find our purpose and pay it forward. We are very fortunate to have Larry's leadership inspiring over 1,000+ local employees and making their voices heard at the executive table. He is a genuine team player, role model, and mentor. The Rogers Women's Network has only been in existence for less than a year but has already affected change for employees of Rogers locally, and none of it would be possible without his encouragement and advocacy, all done with his incredibly humble demeanor. We are thankful beyond words for his leadership in this initiative. and are proud to nominate him for the SupportHer Award.
Julie Boake - 2019 Women of Inspiration Rural Leader
Awedity Creative Inc. - Owner
If you live in Okotoks you likely know Julie Boake of Awedity Creative Inc. Known for her creative side and helping businesses find their brand voice and online identity, she has designed and worked with a large number of local businesses (as well as international clients). She not only teaches them but empowers them and helps guide them to feeling confident online. She has become a pillar of the community, known for lifting up women in the area (managing the Okotoks and Area Women Entrepreneur group on Facebook) (also managing @thinkokotoks on Instagram) and connecting them with resources , she works with the Town of Okotoks, Community Futures, Bow Valley College and The Okotoks and District Chamber of Commerce providing free training to help business owners learn social media and branding and hosts her own learning sessions for charity purposes. She has been recognized for her innate ability to find opportunities to connect people, build relationships and lead. If there is a female business owner in Okotoks, she will likely know Julie because of the way Julie seeks to lift up others and provide resources and a sense of community for women, and men, in our business community.
Trudy Trinh - 2019 Women of Inspiration Inspire Award
Trudy Trinh Signature Beauty - Owner/Artist
Trudy Trinh is a prominent microblading expert based in Toronto, Canada. Trudy’s reputation for crafting natural eyebrows designed to each person’s unique facial features is what distinguishes her from the crowd. Her professional and courteous manner combined with meticulous execution has amassed a growing population of satisfied return customers and requires new customers to book months ahead for her popular microblading sculptures.
Armineh Keshishian - 2019 Women of Inspiration Cultural Ambassador Award
IG Wealth Management - Financial Consultant
Armineh Keshishian is a leading professional in finance and relationships, a critical distinction because the two are so inseparable. As a Financial Consultant to multimillionaires and high net worth individuals, she uses her three professional designations of Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter, and Registered Retirement Consultant, plus 30 years’ experience to best assist over a thousand clients through the years in achieving a synchronized plan. With Armineh, clients not only grow their wealth but enjoy more security, peace of mind and happiness in their relationships and life. Clients describe her strong intuition, compassion, and professionalism as a key asset in providing effective personalized service and peace of mind. Ms. Keshishian’s practice is focused on wealth management, specializing in tax and estate issues. Armineh prepares to experience harmony. In her parallel life to the world of finance Keshishian, the founder of Evolution Dance Theatre has created and produced a number of multidisciplinary dance theatre productions. She says “I strive to create cultural fusion through art. I am inspired by concepts of women’s empowerment, diversity, multiculturalism and breaking down archetypal traditions. My aim is to bring people and cultures together by focusing on our commonalities vs. our differences.
Anne Sellmer - 2019 Women of Inspiration Innovation Award
cōchu chocolatier - Owner/Chocolatier
Anne Sellmer launched cōchu chocolatier in February 2017 - the most recent stage of a life dedicated to creating wonderful things to eat.
Anne is a University of Calgary grad (psychology). At heart, she’s a fun-loving and curious adventurer and traveller, a skier, mountain biker, sailor, a kind listener, a generous friend, a loving mom to 3 rambunctious boys, a proud partner to Rory. She revels in their successes, as they do in hers.
Her design aesthetic shows in her exquisite chocolate products. Her extraordinarily fine cooking skills, her finesse, her distinguishing taste and her creativity with flavour combinations sets her apart from many chocolatiers, as proved by the abundance of international awards she has earned in her first 2.5 years of business. She loves to cook, and you can taste the love. Anne grew up in Calgary (nee Van Rosendaal) and strives to exemplify Calgary’s entrepreneurial character and generosity of spirit.
Diane Colley-Urquhart - 2019 Women of Inspiration Advocate and Catalyst for Change Award
City of Calgary - Ward 13 Councillor
Diane has been a powerful and exemplary leader and voice for women in Calgary with her 50 years working in public service, both as a Healthcare Professional and as an Elected City Official. As Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee, and as Commissioner for the Alberta Human Right and Citizenship Commission, Diane has worked diligently with the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee and has advocated for the rights of Aboriginal people by building the important bridge between City Council and CAUAC. One of her main passions has always been working towards Truth and Reconciliation between the City and the Aboriginal community. Diane led the charge against sexual harassment and gender inequality in the Calgary Police Service as a Police Commissioner for years. She continued this fight in ensuring fair treatment within the City by being an integral part of the creation of the 'Integrity Commissioner' position. As one of the only 3 women in Calgary's Council, and one of the longest standing members with 19 years under her belt, Diane truly is an inspiration and role model to women of all ages.
Catherine Yuile - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Executive Leader Award
Edelman - Executive Vice President
A Woman of Inspiration leads with purpose and passion. She is a role model who inspires by example and leads with grace, championing and shining a bright light on those around her. Catherin Yulie
Catherine is Executive Vice President, Insights and Analytics at Edelman, overseeing a national team of seventeen professionals (most of whom are women), who are driving significant business growth for the firm. Catherine volunteers as Edelman’s Global Women’s Equality Network (GWEN)’s leader in Toronto, championing a volunteer team of 16 women since 2016 to drive local initiatives in the office of 160 employees such as Lean in Circles, coffee/mentoring sessions, celebrations of International Women’s day, panels, and other events designed to support a culture that helps women lead and succeed. The team has also responded to opportunities to offer pro bono communications, media, and donations support to non-profit organizations such as Dress for Success, Girls20, and The Shoebox Project. Catherine also volunteers as a member of the global steering committee of GWEN where she developed corporate scorecards and KPIs to track progress of increasing the presence of female leadership at the firm, and launched a new global Instagram channel for Edelman GWEN to help profile Edelman’s women leaders in the market. Catherine mentors numerous women in the industry. In 2018, Catherine was recognized as a Financial Times & HERoes Champions of Business Top 10 Future Female Leader & Role Model.
Nadine Abdallah - 2019 Women of Inspiration Millennial Leader - Rising Star Award
Accenture - Strategy Consultant & National Pro Bono Lead
Nadine is a force to be reckoned with in her personal and professional endeavors. She strives to maximize lasting impact through cross-sector collaboration. She is currently the lead of Accenture's National Pro Bono Practice - a practice that provides in-kind consulting services to charities and non-profits to Canada. Over four years she has built a practice that supports ~20 projects for different organizations annually with projects such as digital transformations, AI implementation, mergers and acquisitions and many more... all for the non-profit world! She prides herself on bringing the rigor and resources of the corporate world to mission-driven organizations. Further, she is a mentor and leader to a team of 15 (growing from a team of 2 in just 3 years). She has built a reputable practice within a large corporation and continues to drive a living strategy to meet the ever-changing needs of the non-profit sector. She spearheads innovative research and thought-leadership in the space and has forged a path for corporations to follow when they embark on meaningful social impact. Nadine is an inspiration in many rights. On a personal note, Nadine is the host of a new podcast called Neighbourhood SHEro.
Shirley Penner - 2019 Women of Inspiration Innovative Leader Award
Youth Singers of Calgary - Founder and CEO
Shirley Penner is the Founder and CEO of the Youth Singers of Calgary, and has been an incredibly inspiring leader of this organization since 1985. Starting with a small group of 26 students, over 34 dedicated years Shirley has turned the Youth Singers into a highly successful performing arts youth organization. Her philosophy is shaped by her lifetime of involvement and passion for the performing arts. Shirley has helped 4000+ young people in building their self-esteem and encouraging their talents and imaginations, while challenging each individual to pursue their hopes and dreams. Shirley’s team puts on 100+ performances a year, including two main stage shows at the Jubilee Auditorium that are incredible. Her programs not only include choral groups for children and youth but also for adults of all ages and persons with disabilities. The Youth Singers continue to win competitions all over the world, which is a testament to this excellent program and community. A true women of inspiration, Shirley’s lifetime of achievement and continued focus on each amazing Youth Singers of Calgary year is worth celebrating!
Jamieandkimfitpatrickfitness - Owner
I started following Kim because she was a natural leader. Then when she welcomed me to her group with open arms I was inspired by her genuine kindness, empathy and honesty. She is the real thing. She and her husband have built their business from the ground up. They have built an empire. They change the lives of women and men. They help make people see that healthy lives don’t have to be hard. They are true to their word. She recently launched another company Legacy and I’m positive it is going to go straight to the top. She is an inspiration to all who meet her. Recently she was invited by none other than Rachel Hollis to speak with her!!! Are you kidding me right now?? She reaches out to those in need and is there 110% for everyone who needs her. She gives it her all and gives back to the community. She is an woman who believes that we must inspire our other “sisters” and stop comparing ourselves. This is why I wish to nominate Kim. She is one in a million and we need more women like her in our world.
Sandy Pound - 2019 Women of Inspiration Diversity and Inclusiveness Award
RBC - Regional Vice President, Integrated Markets
Sandy Pound is Regional Vice President – Integrated Markets with RBC responsible for the business across 23 Retail branches in Calgary. She has been in the Financial Services industry for 30+ years and has held a variety of roles leading teams at regional and national levels across Canada in Retail Markets, Wealth Management and Private Banking.
Sandy is an active volunteer in Calgary with a passion to support mental health issues, Canada’s youth - Men and Women. She is currently serving as vice-chair on the board of Distress Centre Calgary, executive sponsor of RBC’s Employee Resource Group PRIDE and a mentor to several youths starting out in their careers through RBC’s I thrive and Career launch programs.
Sappho Hansen Smythe - 2019 Women of Inspiration Cultural Ambassador Award
Sappho - Vocalist & VR Visionary
SAPPHO HANSEN SMYTHE is the most successful totally unknown recording artist and performer in Canada today. Young, attractive, driven and in relative terms, pleasant and infinitely psychotic. She spends her days in the domain of virtual reality as a “go-to another world” tutor. The rest of her time SAPPHO is teaching humans of all genders to be virtuoso artists. Now that’s the first 60 hours a week, the next 40 are spent at her love and passion… making music, producing videos, building a career and becoming a bonified hologram. SAPPHO is a prolific songwriter who derives her spirit from abundant short stories, poems, and graphic art, beginning at the age of 4. Both father and mother are intense musical intellects and the obvious breeding ground for her tonal passion. She collaborates with production types on music and writes, directs, produces, acts, dances, designs, edits and directs her own multi-dimensional virtual reality music videos. For the past year, she has been working at The BEACH studios in Calgary creating a breakthrough project call TIME MACHINE. With her new album and a myriad of creative 3dimensional music videos, we expect to see her at the main innovator in the musical genre SCI-POP.
Marlo Brausse - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mompreneur Award
Barre Body Studio - Owner
Marlo Brausse is the creator and owner of Barre Body Studio located in Calgary, Alberta. Marlo began teaching fitness classes, as a hobby, in 2009 and is a member of the Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association. After a rewarding career with the Government of Alberta, Marlo made a bold choice to leave her position as Asst. Chief Probation Officer to follow her dream of operating her own fitness studio. The first of its kind in Calgary, Marlo opened Barre Body Studio in January 2013 and has since grown from a community centre offering to two standalone studios. Marlo resides in Calgary, Alberta with husband, Russ, and their three children.
Arlene Seymour - 2019 Women of Inspiration Millennial Leader Award
Arthur J. Gallagher Canada Limited - Client Service Representative
I am a Client Service representative at Arthur J. Gallagher and manage a book of clients, help them asses their business risks and the appropriate risk management strategy. This includes getting to know their business operations, putting adequate coverage in place, negotiating terms and pricing with markets, and managing my client’s changes throughout the year. I believe people are our richest commodities, treating each of them as the most important person in the room, no matter if their account is the biggest or smallest in my book, is the level of service I strive to achieve. I grew up in a small town with family-based businesses and their needs, while different, is no less than the needs of a multi-million dollar company. If they have an uninsured loss, it could mean going out of business and losing their home. My favorite part of my job is getting to make a difference in someone’s day, make their life easier because I fought for them; whether it be with a claim, on price, or for better coverage. Outside of work, I spend much of my time with my family and I thoroughly enjoy reading, writing, hiking, camping and generally being outdoors.
Mary Fischer - 2019 Women of Inspiration Unsung Heroes Award
Calgary Fire Department - Lieutenant
I had the lucky privilege of growing up in a very large family, with 7 siblings with whom I was able to share experiences, dreams, chaotic Christmases and daily fights for elbow room at the dinner table. While growing up there wasn't a lot of money for extras, and the expectation of working hard to make your own way was modelled and understood by all. I was fortunate enough to finish my education with a teaching degree and my love for large, rambunctious gatherings led to my early career of teaching junior high students. I worked in my community as a volunteer firefighter while teaching full time, and later found a better fit as a full-time firefighter and teacher/coach on my days off. That was 18 years ago, and every day I celebrate the wonderful opportunity to help as a first responder with the City of Calgary Fire Department. I am currently holding the rank of Lieutenant and the role of Acting Captain and am proud to focus some of my time in the area of mental health support and resilience. I vigorously advocate for those who are underrepresented or who struggle to find their voice, and I actively encourage everybody to make their own difference. I see the value in collaborative leadership and feel that my compassionate and empathetic personality add strength to my ability to lead my teams safely and effectively. I look forward to serving many more years in the fire service and to working alongside the talented and competent women and men of the Calgary Fire Department. I hope to continue to be a positive influence and inspire others to find their confidence and make their difference.
Sandra Challenger - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mompreneur Award
WOW 1 Day Painting - Franchise Owner
A mother, grandmother, mentor and business owner, Sandra inspires those around her everyday with her ability to achieve balance while constantly giving back. As the owner and operator of WOW 1 DAY PAINTING in Barrie, Ontario, Sandra develops, mentors and leads an award winning team while finding time for her growing family and giving back to her community. Sandra takes the time to give back to the community she lives in, partnering with Run for the Cure, the Food Bank and a local women’s shelter. A cancer survivor, Sandra learned what she was really capable of and passes on this strength and tenacity to those around her. In true Sandra fashion, she credits her mentors and family with instilling her with the confidence to build a successful business and gives this back to her mentees and community by becoming their constant cheerleader and champion.
Katie Schaeffers - 2019 Women of Inspiration Millennial Leader Award
O2E Brands - Director, Creative Strategy
My current role as Director, Creative Strategy at O2E Brands brings everything I’ve learned together, focusing on developing and delivering brand experiences across the customer journey that are aligned to business outcomes. I bring a global view of the world to my daily life, strongly influenced by my early days as a student at Georgetown University and the London School of Economics, witnessing the rise of citizen journalism, blogs, and the very early stages of social media. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with clients throughout North America and honed my craft as a storyteller, beginning a path of helping others tell their stories. At my core I am a strategic thinker and brand leader who solves business problems through design thinking and creative energy. Brand is in my bones. I develop relationships quickly and with ease, building an environment of trust and mutual benefit to drive results and economic impact. My deep branding and communications experience has allowed me to guide companies and organizations through significant change (growth/expansion, new service offerings, re-branding) and understand the strategy required to create impact and remain true to your vision, all while keeping the needs of stakeholders and partners top of mind.
Theresa Rowsell - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mentorship Award
O2E Brands - Director, Business Solutions & Delivery
Theresa is a woman who leads from the heart, whether you connect for a moment at a bus stop or you’ve known her for 10 years - you feel valued, seen, connected. Her legacy statement sums up who she is - “I am light on my feet as I travel through life with my playful, caring and thoughtful spirit. I am a good friend, I work hard and have a no quit attitude when it comes to the people I love and commitments I make. I am present, connected and positive.” Despite being a busy executive, she is at any given moment mentoring 6+ people to achieve their goals, career pathing and balance. She is a founding member of Brands for Better, a community focused group of executives bringing together Vancouver's top brands, influencers, innovators and philanthropists to focus on the city’s most pressing needs, social or environmental. Theresa inspires through her true connections to people and community.
Debbie Burke-Benn - 2019 Women of Inspiration Authentic Leader Award
Ontario Public Service - Director, Youth Strategies
Debbie Burke-Benn, Director, Youth Strategies, is a values-based leader who has led teams to successful outcomes both in the public, the broader public and the private sector. Her career path has taken her from leadership roles in corporate sponsorship, a leadership role at RBC, to leadership in the public sector, including being at the forefront of bringing public services to co-located sites as the change lead for ServiceOntario. Debbie also ran her own business for 7-years, successfully providing organizational development/change management solutions for organizations in Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean. More recently, she was the Director responsible for the Ontario government’s Basic Income pilot.
Carmen Vetian - 2019 Women of Inspiration Rural Leader Award
Carmen A. Vetian Professional Corporation - Partner and Owner
Carmen has been a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA), in good standing with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta), since 2001. Since 1999, she has worked primarily in public practice, in various roles from junior apprentice to senior manager, and for the past 11 years the Owner/Partner of her own accounting and tax practice. Carmen also has a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designation and is a member in good standing, of The Institute for Divorce Financials Analysts. During the course of her accounting/tax career, she has also had the opportunity to work in the industry as a corporate tax analyst for the Canadian division of an international company. In addition, she was also a corporate tax analyst in the oil and gas industry, also involved in planning, preparation and reporting of corporate taxes to tax authorities and international-based parent corporations. Within these roles, she has had various responsibilities for all tax compliance and due diligence processes for regular tax reporting requirements and also for acquisitions and corporate reorganizations.
A professional accountant is an essential part of a business, and Carmen partners with her clients to assist them in their success, and truly enjoys helping businesses and people with their tax planning and strategies for the future.
Prajwala Dixit - 2019 Women of Inspiration Millennial Leader - Rising Star Award
Diyas for Diversity - Founder & Director
Prajwala Dixit, an engineer by education & a community catalyst by passion, is a journalist and columnist writing for CBC and SaltWire Network whose work, which has garnered international attention, brings forth a female, melanin-rich, Atlantic Indian-Canadian immigrant’s voice. In May 2019, she became the first woman of colour to feature a story (Ramadan On The Rock - https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/ramadan-rock-1.5155474) on CBC NL’s evening news, Here and Now. In The Tales of Dwipa, premiering July 2019 in St. John’s, NL, her first piece as a playwright, she attempts to bridge the Indian and Canadian worlds for the most impressionable minds in the hopes of offering young children a global and pluralistic perspective. A soon to be author with Breakwater Books, recipient of grants by Arts NL and the City of St. John’s, her creative writing pieces have been featured in esteemed publications such as The Newfoundland Quarterly. An active voice against racism, oppression, and discrimination, through her work – professionally, voluntarily and personally – she sheds light on stories that are often unheard, unseen and unspoken. Serving on boards with the Canadian Parents For French, St. John’s Public Libraries Board, Writers’ Alliance of NL, Anti-Racism Coalition NL and PerSIStence Theatre, her annual fundraiser called ‘Diyas For Diversity’ adds global and Indigenous literature to the Public Libraries of NL. Back to school at Memorial University, alongside engineering ways to save the world, she is usually found running behind her toddler!
Siobhan Calderbank - 2019 Women of Inspiration Diversity and Inclusiveness Award
Intelex Technologies - Director, Learning and Development
Siobhan is one of the most inspiring and hard-working women I have ever met. At Intelex, Siobhan has partnered with the business to create and facilitate an unbelievable amount of learning programs and resources for all employees to develop their leadership skills, adapt to and lead change and has created strong and honest relationships with colleagues and direct reports. Siobhan’s mission is to help others and she continuously works on initiatives within Intelex and in different professional industries to help others embrace change, understand and set personal and professional goals, break down barriers and biases and, overall, improve the lives of those around her. She was the co-chair for Intelex’s Woman’s Network Club and now participates on the Advisory Board to raise awareness of diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. She does all of this on top of being Wonder Woman at home with a blended family of three young children. In the last couple months alone, Siobhan has taken her personal time to share her knowledge, passion and intoxicating enthusiasm for learning with other professional industries such as Women in Aerospace, Avanti Women, Project World Business Analyst World, and The Institute for Performance and Learning, as well as business owners.
Cynthia Hamilton Urquhart - 2019 Women of Inspiration Unsung Hero Award
Cynthia Hamilton Urquhart - Retired RCMP, Speaker, Writer
A Woman of Inspiration is a woman who inspires others to be the best they can be. She leads by example in every aspect of her life.
Cynthia Hamilton Urquhart was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer for more than 25 years. Over the span of her career, she and her family moved 9 times and lived in 5 different provinces. This mobility gave her the unique opportunity to police both rural and urban communities while gaining a deeper understanding of the diverse cultures spread across the country. She held numerous positions during her policing career including general duty investigator, court officer, recruiter, ATIP analyst and finally Instructor/Facilitator at the RCMP training academy where she retired in 2011. She received the RCMP 25 Year Long Service medal as well as the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal for outstanding service to her communities. Two years after her retirement she was diagnosed with PTSD and subsequently started an intensive treatment program at the Operational Stress Injury Clinic in Calgary, AB. Using writing as a therapeutic tool she created poetry about the tragedies haunting her from her years as a police officer. Those poems were posted on the Families of the RCMP for PTSD awareness website and from the comments received Cynthia realized she could make a difference with her words. She was invited to attend the Haven Writing Retreat ( one of the top-ranked writing programs in the US ) in Whitefish, Montana, run by Laura Munson, a New York Times and international best selling author. Laura is now mentoring Cynthia as she writes a book on her PTSD journey. One of her short stories was recently published on Laura Munson’s Haven Writing blog and she is preparing to speak at the First Responder Suicide Awareness Conference Calgary, hosted by Legacy Place Society in the fall of 2019.
Angie Ostojic - 2019 Women of Inspiration Go-Getter Award
AOGiving Heart - Founder and Owner
I am a visionary leader, entrepreneur, simple loving wife, mother, and a successful life coach. I was born and raised in the Philippines from a humble upbringing. My determination allowed me to pursue a university education. When I was 19 years old, I worked as a domestic helper in HongKong and the Middle East before moving to Canada to support my family. I have over 19 years of experience as CEO (Champion Elevating Others). One of my greatest achievements is retiring my husband Tony from his job and coaching him to become an entrepreneur. For 5 years now, we have worked together building our business with our Unstoppable team in Sales with over 100 business partners in the insurance industry. I have been blessed to be recognized as Top Organizational Leader, created most Team Growth, and became a Top 5 Income Earner in the first 2 years with the current company I am working with. I use my success story to inspire others to pursue a meaningful and fulfilling life while achieving financial success. I have been a guest speaker at various business conventions and currently, deliver weekly personal development and coaching. I am passionate about enhancing the lives of others and helping them reach their full potential. I find fulfillment in seeing others succeed and attain their goals.
Alison Springer - 2019 Women of Inspiration Difference Maker Award
Young Women of Power - Executive Director
A Woman of Inspiration takes great pride in who she is. She is comfortable in her own skin and isn’t afraid to shine or let others shine too. Alison Springer
Alison Springer has been working with youth-based out of Calgary for over 20 years and she loves it. She travels across Canada as a professional youth speaker inspiring teen greatness. Alison knows how to captivate and inspire hope in her audiences. Her MISSION is to build a generation of CONFIDENT youth who will make positive choices that will change and shape their world. Alison is also the Founder and Executive Director of Young Women of Power (YWOP) a non-profit organization that is transforming female culture by educating and empowering teens and young adults. Alison’s passion for seeing the negative reputation associated with female culture transformed has inspired her to write a curriculum for teen girls called PivotFWD that is now being used in schools and agencies throughout Canada including Calgary’s judicial system. Ten years ago, she started an annual conference that helps girls grow in confidence by redefining beauty and equipping girls in their personal safety. Alison volunteers her time and resources to run this organization, empowering schools and community groups to run gender-specific programs to see an increase in female pride and a value of women across the genders.
Carrie Manitopyes - 2019 Women of Inspiration Indigenous Leader Award
Grey Eagle Resort & Casino - Human Resources Manager
When Indigenous women are strong, the ripple effect on our families, our workplaces and communities are positively impacted. Carrie Manitopyes is that positive ripple, by being an inspirational Indigenous determined role model, she has achieved amazing things in her life. Choosing to go back to school as an adult learner, Carrie graduated with Human Resources Degree and in doing so, sought employment with the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino. Throughout her years at the Resort, Carrie has strived to provide a diverse workforce that reinforces positive strengths to hire and retain Indigenous employees. She has identified many uniquely indigenous employment barriers and by doing so increased the indigenous employment base to one in four employees out of 500+ are Indigenous. Carrie is a lifelong learner, most often engaged in learning and training opportunities, most recently graduating with a Conflict Resolution certificate that has benefited the organization immensely in solving many employment issues. Carrie is also an accomplished athlete, competing in numerous marathons, triathlons and most recently an 800 km pilgrimage across Spain. I am pleased to nominate Carrie as she is a catalyst for Indigenous women’s leadership and its importance to the success of our families, our workplaces and our communities.
Dr Christy Lane - 2019 Women of Inspiration Trailblazer (STEM) Award
Vivametrica - Founder
A Woman of Inspiration is someone who helps others see their value and fosters growth, wellness and success in her circle.
Dr. Christy Lane is a mompreneur and exercise scientist who is changing the way people understand and manage their health using wearable devices and predictive analytics. She is the Founder of Vivametrica, a health analytics company in Calgary that uses artificial intelligence to uncover health risks. Currently, as a Visiting Professor at Stanford University, she is leading her field in the science of physical activity as it relates to preventing and managing mobility limiting disorders. In the fall she will become the Chair of Health and Physical Education at Mount Royal University where she hopes to foster the growth of new health and wellness leaders in Canada. Christy has won many international awards for her work in lifestyle medicine and the application of technology in health and speaks often globally on these topics. She was awarded Calgary Top 40 Under 40 in 2018. Her support and mentorship of girls and women in STEM have had significant impacts on the careers and lives of her those who have worked with her. She is also passionate about helping fellow female entrepreneurs close the funding gap.
Rebecca McKillican - 2019 Women of Inspiration SupportHER Award
Well.ca - CEO
Rebecca McKillican is the CEO of Well.ca, a company she joined in 2012. Well.ca is a major Canadian online retailer that employs over 200 people in Guelph and Toronto. They are the largest purveyor of green and natural healthcare products and cosmetics. They have won numerous awards for their customer experience and e-commerce innovation. Before becoming part of the Well.ca team, Rebecca worked for the New York City-based private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts (KKR) within the retail and consumer group. While at KKR, Rebecca spent the majority of her time driving operational improvements across the firm’s portfolio companies. Rebecca has also worked at McKinsey & Company. Rebecca holds a B.A. from the Richard Ivey School of Business, a B.Eng in Electrical Engineering from Western University, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School where she was a Baker Scholar. In 2018 Rebecca was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. She is also a board member of the National Bank of Canada. She's a passionate online shopper, a mom to three young children, and she loves shopping for green & natural products at Well.ca to keep her family well.
Cara Wolf - 2019 Women of Inspiration Trailblazer (STEM) Award
Ammolite Analytx - Founder and CEO
Cara is the Founder and CEO of Ammolite Analytix, a custom AI-powered software and hardware development firm specializing in cybersecurity and data analytics. She is a recognized award-winning thought leader, author, and speaker with over 25 years of executive leadership. Cara has consulted for over 300 businesses including several Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups. As a serial entrepreneur, she founded and exited two of her own firms. Cara holds a BComm. in Marketing, an MBA in Corporate Finance and Entrepreneurship from the Haskayne School of Business and a Certified Management Consultant designation. She has sourced and advised on millions of dollars of financing. She has won numerous awards provincially and nationally for her strategic technology innovation initiatives and guest lectures regularly on the topics of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. She has mentored over 100 companies at the start-up stage with Google for Start-ups and frequently judges pitch competitions. She has extensive experience serving at the Advisory Board and Director level for many organizations including the University of Calgary, is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and UN Women. She was recently recognized as TECTERRA's Woman of Impact, UCalgary's Distinguished Graduate and Woman of Inspiration Trailblazer STEM.
Lindsay Harle-Kadatz - 2019 Women of Inspiration Influencer Award
The Write Harle - Owner
Lindsay Harle-Kadatz is the owner of The Write Harle, helping small businesses refine their voice and brand message through content. Passionate about messaging, Lindsay looks to create engaging and action-focused content strategies, aligning a company’s marketing mediums with one core message. She is the author of Depression Constipation: How Pooping Saved My Sanity…and Other Stories, a real-life tale of understanding depression in terms of constipation, humour, and mental prune juice. With everything, Lindsay continues to make puns while looking for the funny in the mundane. When not indulging her love of the big red editing pen, Lindsay spends time with her two “under the desk employee” pups Coco and Chase, and just enjoying life in general (AKA: eating, drinking wine, and making real, genuine connections with people).
Chantel Soumis - 2019 Women of Inspiration Diversity and Inclusiveness Award
Stardust Creative LLC - Founder and Creative Director
A Woman of Inspiration is someone who puts shame aside and leads with love and vulnerability to allow people to connect deeply to a purpose much bigger than ourselves, no matter the cost. Chantel Soumis
As a millennial with multiple disabilities herself, Chantel Soumis does not "suffer" from them. Rather she thrives, serves as an accomplished example to others of all ages, and champions causes related to work accommodations for the differently-abled community. And she does so with an attitude and spirit that I find endlessly inspiring. Chantel Soumis a top LinkedIn Creator with over 30k organic followers acquired in one year. Chantel is also the Founder and Creative Director of Stardust Creative LLC, a brand agency focused on embracing differences through personal and corporate branding. She’s spoken at VidCon as one of the first LinkedIn video creators as well as at international conferences in LA, London, Dallas, and more. As an advocate for the differently-abled community, Chantel spreads awareness, hope, and inspiration to those around the world fighting for acceptance by sharing the hidden struggles of the differently-abled community. By administering an attitude of gratitude, Chantel has overcome severe obstacles and spends a substantial portion of her time coaching others to accept and believe in themselves, and to treat one another with dignity and value, recognizing we are all brothers and sisters of the same human race.
Faten Alshazly - 2019 Women of Inspiration Inspire Award
WeUsThem Inc. - Chief Creative Officer
Faten is our creative lead here at WeUsThem but she is truly so much more than that. Under her guidance, our agency here on the East Coast has continuously set the trend for the standard of work in this industry. WeUsThem has brought home Davey and Webby awards, while Alshazly herself has been named to the Women's Executive Network (WXN) of Canada as one of the 100 most powerful women in our country. Faten is a force to be reckoned with in the fields of Arts and Communication, but also as a leader in the community as an influencer. Along with being our Chief Creative Officer, Faten has been known by many as a professor, business advisor, mentor, and a board member for business. She loves helping and giving guidance to the next generation of women within the STEM industries. Whether it is her working with various committees or actually bringing a mentee into the agency to see how the day-to-day goes. "There is no secret sauce. There is no superpower. It is about listening, collaborating, and being tenacious." Faten says that she would not be where she is now without the great mentors in her life. She is doing her best to give back to the community and show the generation of tomorrow where the light at the end of the tunnel is.
Eno Eka - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mentorship Award
Eny Consulting Inc. - Director and Principal Consultant
Eno is an immigrant to Canada, she arrived in Canada in April 2018 who has changed the game and is telling her story to change the narrative about African immigrants. She is a Business Analyst Specialist with a digital technology and integration solutions company in Calgary. Her experience cuts across several domains such as Banking, Oil& Gas and Construction where she led multicultural and cross-functional teams in several digital transformation projects. Eno is passionate about volunteering and helping immigrants in Canada succeed in their chosen careers. Eno is an exceptional woman, She has dedicated her time to serving others and paying it forward as a coach, mentor, teacher, trainer to hundreds of immigrants in her community. She has built a community of almost 500 people whom she mentors in getting their dream jobs and settling in Canada. She has helped lots of people get jobs through her coaching, mentorship and even referring them to companies for job offers. She has inspired so many immigrant women here in Canada to believe in themselves and aim for the lives they truly deserve.
Denise Alison - 2019 Women of Inspiration Rural Leader Award
Stratigro - Social Media Strategist
Denise Alison is a social media strategist who emphasizes the importance of relationships. She is on a mission to teach female entrepreneurs the skills they need to create their own content confidently and consistently so they can get noticed by their dream customers! Through her own experiences, Denise saw the impact that social media could have on entrepreneurs and their ability to attract customers. It became a passion of hers to spread her knowledge and expertise to help other entrepreneurs grow. Denise is a sought after speaker. She not only informs her audience and shares practical strategies, but she entertains her audience as well. She was recently invited to speak a Live Stream Summit in New York to share her live streaming expertise with attendees. Denise lives in Clare, an Acadian fishing village in southwest Nova Scotia. She is a long-time member of the Chambre de Commerce de Clare and is currently serving as Vice-President. When Denise isn’t working on social media or business-related activities, she is probably rehearsing for a show at th’Yarc, a community theatre, or planning an improv show with the Catch 22 Comedy Crew, which she is a co-founder of.
Kendra Kincade - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mentorship Award
Elevate Aviation - President and Founder
Against all odds Kendra Kincade has risen from being a homeless preteen with a harrowing list of obstacles, to becoming Honorary Colonel of the RCAF 417 Helicopter Squadron and Founder of Elevate Aviation, Canada’s most prominent non-profit dedicated to helping women achieve their potential in aviation. Kendra has worked as an Air Traffic Controller for nearly 20 years and began her philanthropic journey through the Make-A-Wish foundation, where the smile she brought to a little girl’s face forever wrote itself into her heart. She then climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to fundraise for the Lois Hole Hospital, and founded her first non-profit, Changing Stories, undertaking projects such as building schools and playgrounds in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Upon recognizing the negligible female presence in the aviation industry, she founded Elevate Aviation. Elevate has formed partnerships with every major airline in Canada, as well as all the entities who are integral to them. Elevate boasts over 150 mentors nationwide, donates thousands every year to aviation students, and hosted behind-the-scenes tours of the industry for young women in 20 cities this year. The Elevate Aviation Learning Centre™ opened in March 2019, ignites passion for aviation through immersive experience. In 2016, Kendra was the Global Woman of Vision and won the NAV Canada Chairman’s Award. She is a 2019 SHEInnovator with GICC, a United Nations Women partner. Kendra is also a columnist for Wings and Helicopter magazines.
Joan Kelley Walker - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Impact Award
Joan Kelley Walker Collection - Humanitarian, Model, Actress, Writer, TV Personality
The Wilcox, Saskatchewan native who went from humble beginnings to being a formidable force across Canada in communicating that ‘giving’ and caring for others is truly the best we can do when given an opportunity to do so. Joan’s taste and elegance came to the national screen on The Real Housewives of Toronto(RHOT). Her unique sense of fashion has been profiled in FASHION Magazine Toronto Life, and HELLO Canada to name a few. Joan was recently awarded the “Contribution to Canadian Fashion Award” by the IFE. She is currently a host on FASH Avenue and regularly contributes as a guest writer to a number of fashion publications. One of her most impressive and cherished distinctions is that throughout her life Joan has been very philanthropic-focused. She has been a World Vision Ambassador for over 18 years and is an incredible humanitarian. Raising awareness where recognition is due. Joan's latest fashion entrepreneurial venture marries her love of fashion with philanthropy creating the Joan Kelley Walker collection a fashionable but affordable clothing line for the everyday woman sold exclusively online across Canada at Walmart.ca. In keeping with her principle of giving back, for every Joan Kelley Walker collection item purchased, Joan Kelley Walker will make a donation to Breakfast Club of Canada, a charitable organization that provides breakfast every day to more than 220,000 children nationwide.
Robyn Woods (Henderson) - 2019 Women of Inspiration Trailblazer (STEM) Award
The Uncomplicated Family/ Teleroo World - CEO/Founder
Robyn Woods (Henderson) is, word for word, taking the road less traveled and ignoring the naysayers. As a co-parent of five children, two with disabilities, and founder of a successful western-Canadian disabilities services and technology company, she sees first-hand the quality of life that children and families living with disabilities can achieve when supported with personalized, readily accessible care. She is also acutely aware of the barriers they face achieving this type of care, including cost, accessing the right experts at the right times, language barriers, and much more. Robyn has responded as a hurricane-force transforming disability service delivery with Teleroo™ World, a patented, evidence-informed, secure, and globally-relevant collaborative suite of technologies that can be used in health, education, the community, and the home to deliver personalized disability care. People have said she's biting off more than she can chew as a Registered Speech-language Pathologist single-handedly boot-strapping the funding for Teleroo™ World and taking it from concept to commercialization. They were wrong! Teleroo™ World is at work helping families achieve quality of life outcomes in half the time of traditional disability services and is being piloted in world-class locations, such as the Stollery Children's Hospital.
Jocelyn Flanagan - 2019 Women of Inspiration Authentic Leader
e=mc² events - Founder & CEO
Jocelyn is Founder and CEO of e=mc2 events ~ an award-winning live experience company delivering world-class event and conference services to corporate, non-profit, and social clients globally. Jocelyn is committed to the advancement of the event industry and strives to give back through being a speaker at international conferences and mentoring students in the industry. She is the founder and past chair of International Live Events Association (ILEA) Canada and past and has served as the Canadian representative on the International Relations Committee of ILEA. In 2010, Jocelyn was selected by Avenue Magazine as one of Calgary’s Top 40 under 40, which celebrates Calgarians that excel in their industry and raise the profile of the city. Business in Calgary Magazine recognized Jocelyn as one of the Leaders of Tomorrow in 2011 for her contributions to the community through business initiatives and philanthropic activities.
Lindsey Penrose - 2019 Women of Inspiration Inspire Award
The Penrose Group Inc - Founder & Managing Partner - The Penrose Group Inc
As the founder of The Penrose Group, Ms Penrose oversees all aspects of the company's operation. She is particularly adept at providing advisory and other consulting services central to an organization's exit strategy. The Penrose group has been in business for over 10 years and successfully advised on many mergers and acquisitions all over the Canadian and the United States. Not only has Lindsey excelled in business but she is also an aviation enthusiast who loves to fly in her spare time. She is currently a private pilot working on her commercial license and hopes to fly jets down the road. Lindsey went to Seneca College to study social work and business. She has donated countless hours and capital to help others. Lindsey has been involved in several charities and volunteers every year with the Basket Brigade Canada. She has personally delivered food baskets to deserving families during the holidays. Not only is Lindsey a woman of inspiration for her business, charitable and aviation efforts but she is also an amazing person inside and out. She prides herself in having a strong moral compass and is an extremely empathic person. Lindsey hopes to one day have a scholarship program for women who want to get into aviation.
Layna Segall - 2019 Women of Inspiration Customer Service Experience Award
The Checker Transportation Group - Media Manager
As a single mother, she supports her family and at the same time educate herself so she can have a better future. After some years of trips around the world, the last 5 years she lives in Calgary. Through her organization, but also, from the groups that she supports (tourism Calgary, International, etc.); she tries to help people from other countries or provinces to established here. She is a Leader that accomplished to earn the respect and the love in a company that men are the majority. Her international experience and her personality are the biggest assets of her success.
Angel Guerra - 2019 Women of Inspiration Cultural Ambassador Award
Market Collective - Co-founder
Angel Guerra has spent over a decade contributing to Calgary's arts and culture through her work with Market Collective. Co-founded by Guerra and former partner Angela Dione, Market Collective was among the first artist markets in Calgary. Over ten years later, Market Collective is recognized as one of Calgary’s most vital platforms for local artists, artisans, designers, musicians, ensuring that these artists keep 100% of sales as a sustainable support for their practices and small businesses. Guerra currently holds the title of Director at Market Collective. Within this role, she is responsible for the strategic direction of the organization, as well as logistics and on the ground management of each event, media relations, social media, community development, and employee growth. Guerra is also a substitute teacher with the Calgary Board of Education and an outdoor education leader with Westmount Charter School.
Dr Liza Egbogah - 2019 Women of Inspiration Innovator Award
Dr Liza Shoes - Founder, CEO | BSc, DC, DOMP
Dr. Liza Egbogah is one of North America’s leading Body & Posture experts. She is the manual osteopath of choice for political leaders, CEOs and A-list celebrities, and the founder of Dr. Liza Shoes, a revolutionary line of heels and flats meticulously designed for painless all-day wear. When she’s not traveling to treat her Hollywood clientele, Dr. Liza practices at the[fix], her boutique clinic in Toronto’s Financial District. She is a prominent media personality that you may be familiar with from The Social, Marilyn Denis, Cityline, CTV, Hallmark Channel, NBC and a plethora of morning shows. She is also a health contributor for a wide variety of publications.
Andrea Muir - 2019 Women of Inspiration Health and Wellness Award
The Fierce Fempire Corp. - Founder and CEO
Andrea Muir is a Transformation and Lifestyle Coach, Self-Care Advocate and mom of two. She champions a holistic approach to thriving in life through physical well-being, a success mindset, and emotional fitness. Like a phoenix through the ashes of her own trauma, Andrea had to learn how to rise through her darkness of depression and anxiety, feelings of failure and lack of fulfillment. Through the tools and systems that she teaches today, Andrea created her own destiny and now feels healthy, energized and unstoppable.
In sharing her story, she is committed to inspiring people to unleash their best life so they can stop surviving and start thriving. Today she helps others live healthy lives and thrive in all areas of life. Andrea lives in Calgary, with her husband, kids, and two fur babies. In her spare, you can find Andrea on the dance floor. She is a passionate Zumba Instructor; dance is the on-button to her soul.
Sheila Musgrove - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Influencer Award
TAG Recruitment Group - Founder & Finder of Fabulousness
Sheila Musgrove started TAG Recruitment in 2005 with an IKEA desk, bargain website, and a computer monitor as big as a fish tank. TAG has grown into a thriving multi-million- dollar organization with a strong reputation for finding stellar talent—all from an uber funky office, with a disco ball and a gong. Her mantra is "some is good, more is better”, which applies to running, the amount of jewelry worn, heel height and laughter. She loves all things that sparkle and thinks she’s a lot taller than she is! Yes, she runs quite easily in heels and recently completed her second half marathon (in runners) with more races to come. Sheila has received numerous awards including the 2017 Alberta Venture ranking of Alberta’s fastest growing companies – TAG has appeared 6 times on the list. Profit and Chatelaine rank Canada’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs – she’s appeared on the list 4 times. Sheila was recognized by Red Deer College as their 2015 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Sheila Musgrove started TAG Recruitment in 2005 with an IKEA desk, bargain website, and a computer monitor as big as a fish tank. TAG has grown into a thriving multi-million- dollar organization with a strong reputation for finding stellar talent—all from an uber funky office, with a disco ball and a gong.
Her mantra is "some is good, more is better”, which applies to running, the amount of jewelry worn, heel height and laughter. She loves all things that sparkle and thinks she’s a lot taller than she is! Yes, she runs quite easily in heels and recently completed her second half marathon (in runners) with more races to come.
Sheila has received numerous awards including the 2017 Alberta Venture ranking of Alberta’s fastest growing companies – TAG has appeared 6 times on the list. Profit and Chatelaine rank Canada’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs – she’s appeared on the list 4 times. Sheila was recognized by Red Deer College as their 2015 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Anila Umar Lee Yuen - 2019 Women of Inspiration Authentic Leader Award
Centre for Newcomers - President and CEO
In her role as CEO for the Centre for Newcomers, Lee Yuen has helped new Canadians settle into the city, while also helping bring the organization out of debt. When she was 23, Anila Umar Lee Yuen received a Governor General’s award for her work with the Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth and the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, where she advocated for women and children’s rights. At the awards ceremony, the husband of another recipient brashly suggested that she had “peaked.” He couldn’t have been more wrong. Since then, Lee Yuen has received an Alberta Centennial Medallion for Community Service, volunteered with the Calgary Stampede‘s International Agriculture Committee and completed a degree in behavioral neuroscience.
Grace Yan - 2019 Women of Inspiration Inspire Award
Coldwell Banker Commercial - Director Sales and Marketing
Grace Yan is your 5 star Agent. With over 15 years of Real estate Paralegal experience and as a former President of the Alberta Association of Professional Paralegals - She is a Notary Public and Commissioner for Oaths in and for the Province of Alberta. Grace has been Board of Directors for many Associations including past NAFTA Alberta Director for Alberta Association of Professional Paralegals. Much of what makes Grace an exceptional agent is her myriad of abilities in real estate listings, sales, master negotiator and paralegal background. Grace's success in this industry can be attributed to protecting her client’s interest and a strong referral base. She adheres to a strict regiment that is a blend of knowledge, experience, hard work, communication, loyal and dedicated service. She has also sold major restaurants, Hotel, businesses and closed many commercial leases. Having extensive international real estate experience, relocating clients all over the world from Asia, Europe and North America.
Sarah Hawco - 2019 Women of Inspiration The Nest Award
Hawco Peters and Associates Inc. - Founding Partner
Sarah has an extraordinary wealth of legal and financial expertise that brings a 360-degree perspective to the dispute resolution process. She is a Chartered Accountant with a specialization in tax, as well as a Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional, and holds a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. She is also a member of CPA Alberta, CIRP, ACFE and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Alberta. Prior to founding Hawco Peters, Sarah spent 13 years practicing insolvency and turnaround management at national and international firms. She also provided a wide range of consulting, specializing in due diligence, business reviews and viability assessments, corporate taxation, estate planning, restructuring, and alternative dispute resolution. Outside of her professional commitments, Sarah volunteers her time to teaching financial literacy at various schools and shelters.
Rhonda Head - 2019 Women of Inspiration Indigenous Leader Award
RVH Event Planners - Professional Singer
Rhonda has received 13 nominations in total and won six international music awards since she began her music career in 2010. Rhonda has had the opportunity to perform in some of the most amazing venues – Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Centre, the Viper Room, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 5 Lands Walk Festival in NSW, Australia, and numerous other venues. Rhonda also recently released an autobiography called Mezzo-Soprano – Memoirs of a Rez Girl. It wasn’t always an easy road for Rhonda, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was 22 years old. Rhonda took a year off to recuperate from the 11.5-hour surgery. When she thought her life was back on course, she received devastating news again when she was 30 years old, that the tumour grew back. Once again, she took time off and took care of her health. Despite the setbacks and challenges, Rhonda continued to follow her passion for music.
Uyen Nguyen - 2019 Women of Inspiration Change Agent Award
Synaptic, Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre - Co-Founder & Executive Director
Recognizing a gap in rehabilitative services for people living with neurological conditions, Uyen co-founded Synaptic: Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre with forward-thinking philanthropists and community partners in 2012.
Created to impact change, Synaptic has raised over 2.5 million dollars to go towards progressive rehabilitation, advanced therapeutic technology, and client-centered programs in a cost-recovery model of care. Synaptic exists to extend the continuum of care and improve the quality of life for those who need it most. Excited by the possibilities in neuroscience, Uyen is driven to create a platform for innovators, change-makers, thought leaders and social visionaries to push the limits of rehabilitation and lead the industry in neuro supportive therapies. Uyen is striving to bring emerging technology to Canada and be an early adopter of change. Leading the way for new technology and advanced therapies, she moves Synaptic into a STEM space that allows for innovation in the world of neurorehabilitation.
Marnie Grundman - 2019 Women of Inspiration Advocate and Catalyst for Change
Marnie Grundman - Author and Advocate
Marnie Grundman is using her heartbreaking life experience to help de-stigmatize runaways and people experiencing homelessness. She began running away from home after her mother dropped her out of a 2-story window at the age of 5. After years of running, Marnie ended up living on the streets at the age of 13 where she was sexually assaulted and trafficked for labour. Marnie raised herself and found a way of the streets at the age of 14 1/2. At 53, she now shares her story of survival to help others.
Tracey Wood - 2019 Women of Inspiration Change Agent Award
Agents of Change - Co Founder & CEO
Tracey enjoys challenging the status quo and initiating broad, industry-wide change with a view to creating organizations that have a positive social impact. Her strengths lie in asking why and developing creative strategic solutions on a large scale. She thrives in an environment where she can stretch her leadership skills and unite her team around a common vision. It is a gift to watch others to bring your vision to reality. Leading a team that takes an idea and transforms an industry is a privilege she has had more than once. Each time the experience is extraordinary.
Jennifer Carlson - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Achievement Award
Baby Gourmet - Co-founder
Jennifer Carlson is the co-founder and visionary behind Baby Gourmet, Canada’s leading brand of organic baby food. She successfully launched the Baby Gourmet brand in 2006 and has since built a company with products distributed in major retailers across North America and China. Her first cookbook “Growing Up Gourmet” hit shelves in spring 2016. Over the past 13 years, Jen has been recognized with numerous awards for her leadership and innovation. Jen has recently taken a position as Chair of Innovation & New Ventures in the School of Business at SAIT and launched a new business, Thirsty Naturals, a natural line of body products for teenagers. Jen is the mother of two well-fed children, an innovator, and an inspirational speaker.
Deb Milimaka Miles -2019 Women of Inspiration SupportHER Award
Harvest One - Chief Administrative Officer/Chief People Officer
A Senior Executive, Corporate Professional with over 30 years of high-performance corporate management and consulting experience in 16 countries around the world. Deb’s career has focused on driving transformation in business cultures through leadership. Over her career, Deb has worked in the Financial, CPG and Technology verticals for both public and private, national and international companies, such as SMART Technologies, Aguila Convergence Worldwide, Foxconn, Loblaws, The Odella Group, Future Shop, Hudson’s Bay, National Trust, Scotiabank and BMO and most recently Harvest One. Deb brings a wealth of experience in managing complex corporations through periods of global transformation, acquisition, and adapting in rapidly changing environments. In her background, Deb was with Loblaw, Canada’s largest retailer, where she led the national change team for one of the largest-ever SAP implementations. She’s consistently been recognized as a top performer with innovative and effective approaches to strategic planning, leadership, and organizational effectiveness. She’s known for building dynamic cross-functional partnerships within the Business and HR, to be agents of change.
Amanda Hamilton - 2019 Women of Inspiration Game Changer Award
Amanda Hamilton Interior Design - Creative Director
Celebrated for her tenacious and vibrant persona, Amanda Hamilton’s bold and unconventional approach to design and business has made her one of the most sought after interior designers in Western Canada. With over a decade of experience, she has earned a diverse and extensive portfolio including custom residential homes, multi-family developments, restaurant, office and retail design. Committed to continual education and evolution through exploration, Amanda unearths inspiration from significant cultural and social influences like literature, art, music, film and fashion, which are all purposely woven into her work, providing depth to the design narrative. Intimately involved in the creative development and strategic planning of each project, Amanda pursues client inclusion throughout the design process to ensure spaces embody the values and capture the character of each client. She is the current chair of the World of Choices committee for Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta. Notable accolades include Avenue Magazine’s 2017 Top 40 Under 40 Award, Silver Stevie Women Entrepreneur of Canada Award in 2017, “One to Watch” in the 2013 Western Living Designer of the Year Awards, and recipient of the Mount Royal University Horizon Award in 2012. With an insatiable need for adventure, Amanda travels extensively, stumbling upon inspiration and a few glasses of Rose along the way.
Andrea Robertson - 2019 Women of Inspiration Difference Maker Award
STARS Air Ambulance - CEO
A Woman of Inspiration is someone who is authentic, who stays true to their principles and who they are regardless of their success or the situation. Andrea Robertson
Andrea Robertson has been committed to life-long learning since she was a young nurse, and that drive carried her through many academic achievements, from a Bachelor’s in Nursing, to a Master’s, to an executive fellowship from Wharton University and Ivey School of Business, to an executive leadership program at Harvard. These accolades, as well as her past leadership roles at Alberta Health Services, Foothills Medical Centre and Alberta Children’s Hospital, were all in service to her community. For Andrea, there is no greater service than helping someone survive a critical illness or injury. Which is why, as president and CEO of STARS, she is right where she belongs. She is responsible for the direction of our operations and works to build upon external relationships with donors, governments and key partners. Strengthening these relationships is vital to provide the best possible service to our communities.
Andrea’s leadership and contributions to business and her community have been widely recognized, as a member of the board of directors of both Bow Valley College and Calgary Airport Authority and one of WXN’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada in 2014.
Tim Alison - 2019 Women of Inspiration SupportHER Award
Screw the Naysayers Productions - Founder and CEO
The Naysayers laughed when I walked away from a six-figure income, moved to a tiny fishing village, and started my own company. They stopped laughing when my sales topped $10 million. On the Screw the Naysayers Podcast I interview guests from around the globe that have overcome adversity and broken free from a system that encouraged them to settle. We share inspiring stories and practical advice you can use to live the life you want.
Teresa Spinelli - 2019 Women of Inspiration Cultural Ambassador Award
Italian Centre Shop Ltd. - Owner
Born in Edmonton in 1961, Teresa grew up at the Italian Centre Shop, taking her first steps in the pasta aisle. By age 13, she was working in the store regularly as a cashier, never dreaming she would one day ascend to the Presidency of the company. With her vision of changing the business from a local grocery store to a major importer and distributor, the company has grown 8 times with 4 stores (located in Edmonton and Calgary), over 500 employees and sales exceeding 70 million.
We Talk Women - Founder
A passionate, global citizen with the skills to inspire, engage and mobilize. Specialties: Social Media Strategy and Engagement, Communication Skills, Donor Relations, Customer Service, Community Event Planning and Public Speaking, Kavita was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick but spent much of her in a suburb of New Delhi in India where she was exposed to rampant poverty, social injustices and human rights violations. As a young child her mother worked for a local NGO that focused on education of children, HIV/AIDS awareness and vocational skills training aimed at creating strong, independent women. Her sense of civic duty, volunteering and advocating for a more just society were born out of her mother’s commitment to helping people. After a university professor connected Kavita to Human Rights Watch, she developed a keen interest in women’s rights. It was at the HRW Film Festival that she attended a viewing of the documentary “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo”; this documentary had a profound impact on her and pushed her into action. In 2012, she founded an organization called We Talk Women; that works to raise awareness about local and global girls’ and women’s rights issues. She is passionate about many causes and has decided to dedicate much of her free time to the progress of each of them. Kavita believes that everyone needs to do their part in making the world a better place and mobilizes people to take meaningful action in their communities.
Brenda Beckedorf - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mentorship Award
Launch Strategic Group - Chief Growth Officer
Brenda is the Chief Growth Officer for Launch Strategic Group. As Chief Growth Officer Brenda offers companies the consistent leadership needed to facilitate the changes that are necessary to achieve strategic sales growth and improve the company’s future growth prospects.
With 20 plus years in business development and sales strategy, Brenda’s success has been the ability to build sales teams recognized for their performance excellence and accountability. She has strong business acumen and many years of experience understanding the business issues of clients across a multitude of industries. Over her many years in building sales teams, Brenda has demonstrated leadership with both her teams and her strategic partners. With a strong belief in social giving, Brenda volunteers regularly with the Drop-in Center, Soup Sister and participates in the CIBC Run for the Cure. She is VP of Calgary Women in Energy- a nonprofit focused on professional women in the oil and gas sector with the purpose of continuing education in the energy sector as well as community involvement.
Mylene Tu - 2019 Women of Inspiration Millennial Leader - Rising Star
FEM in STEM - Founder
Advocate of the concept of applying intrinsic motivation to all aspects of life. Mylene believes that one's passion and career path should merge in harmony without compromise. Currently she is working towards her Bachelor of Applied Science in Management Engineering at the University of Waterloo with a minor in Entrepreneurship. At the same time, she is a varsity athlete for the Waterloo Warriors track team.
Mylene founded FEM in STEM on April 2018 as a way for young women to support each other and find opportunities to thrive in science, technology, engineering, and math. What started off as an app idea, then a hub of online resources, to in-person outreach, FEM in STEM has grown into a social enterprise. Now FEM in STEM impacts high school and undergraduate females across Ontario through community outreach events, resources, collaborations with other STEM clubs/organizations and the Catalyst program which is Canada’s first personal and professional growth accelerator for young women.
Johanne Belanger - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Influencer Award
Mariott International - Vice President, Field Marketing, US & Canada
Johanne Bélanger is the Vice President, Field Marketing, US & Canada, Marriott International. She is a long-time industry builder, a multiple-award-winning business leader, an international speaker, a Chartered Accountant, and a tireless volunteer and mentor. Johanne Bélanger has been recognized by the Canadian National Exhibition Association as a Woman of Distinction (in 2016), by New York Moves Magazine as one of their top 25 Power Women and by Biz Bash as their Hall of Fame inductee (both in 2017), and – in 2018- by the MPI (Meeting Professionals International) with the Industry Influence Award and by Ryerson University with the G. Raymond Chang Outstanding Volunteer Award. Supporting and mentoring women in business is close to Johanne Bélanger’s heart. She co-founded Freeman Women’s Development, a program aimed at advancing women as leaders and at contributing to an environment where the best talent succeeds, as well as the networking group WITH IT! (Women in Tourism & Hospitality in Toronto). She is a charter member of the Women of InfoComm Network, a global community committed to supporting and empowering women in AV and technology.
Jennifer Ladouceur - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mompreneur Award
Women Leadership Nation, A Pozentivity Inc. Company - President and Founder
Jennifer is a serial entrepreneur dedicated to helping organizations close the Gender and Innovation Gaps. Women Leadership Nation™ works in male dominated industries to close the Gender Gap by working with enterprises that attract, develop, engage and retain women leaders. She has been featured as a keynote speaker in TedxVaughanWomen sharing her personal story and speaking on the topic of Finding Your Authentic Self. Her personal story is truly an inspiration. She is a mom of seven, successful business woman, and cancer survivor.
Luma Awad Qusus - 2019 Women of Inspiration Cultural Ambassador Award
Luma Awad Qusus - Founder and Designer
Raised amongst the distinctive Roman, Greek and Arabic heritages, Luma Qusus Awad brings the best of those worlds in her unique handmade pieces of Inamullumani Jewelry. This Jordanian- Canadian artist is a true lover of fine art in all its forms. Luma discovered her passion for jewelry design while living in Greece. A talented mother of three, Luma is inspired by the outstanding colors of the Mediterranean, the magic of the Jordanian deserts, the rich history of Europe and the beautiful souls she has met through her travels. Her unique collections and pieces are in high demand internationally by clients who recognize her exclusive and timeless taste. Luma combines precious metals, gemstones and mixed media to create pieces that echo stories of heritage in a new flare that guarantees a fashion statement. Luma’s collections have been showcased at international exhibitions, from Paris UNESCO Head Quarters to Athens, Dubai and Amman Design Week. A passionate humanitarian, Luma was one of the first artisans in Jordan to create a collection in support of cancer patients. Her current project helps bring awareness to the refugee crisis, and Luma continually looks for way to help inspire change by empowering women through income-generating projects. Welcome to the world of inamullumani.
Arjun Channa - 2019 Women of Inspiration Power Partner Award
The Westin Calgary - General Manager
Women complete Men - they will always be two letters ahead, amongst all other areas related to heart, mind, and soul. Arjun Channa
Arjun Channa it the General Manager of Westin, Calgary. He is passionate about empowering women in business, provide them with a voice and create opportunities for them to have access to senior leadership roles. Arjun along with his team have launched a Global Pilot program to Advance women in Leadership for Marriott International. Arjun brings his extensive background in hotel operations, strong inter-personal skills as a servant leader with uncompromising character of excellence in service and a record of delivering superior performance in all aspects of the hotel operations.
Experienced hotel operations professional, with strong interpersonal skills, spearheaded with a very uncompromising character of excellence in service and a record of delivering superior performance in all aspects of the hotel operations (Managed and Owned). Over 25 Years Global experience spanning: Two hotel openings, in Algeria and United Arab Emirates combined with European, African, Far Eastern, Pacific, Caribbean (Task Force GM) & North American experiences; and one hotel conversion in South Asia.
Anaida Deti - 2019 Women of Inspiration Indigenous Leader Award
DentalX - CEO
Anaida immigrated to Canada from Albania 16 years ago with her husband. They had only a few hundred dollars with them and a big dream of building something theirs but not much else. She spoke no English and her school meant nothing here so she had to start everything from scratch. She worked seven days a week while going to school full time. After a few years of finishing school and getting her license as a registered dental hygienist, she founded DentalX in 2013. DentalX started with only her, booking appointments in her car and seeing patients in the late afternoons or Sundays after she worked all day for other dental offices. Now she has about 12 staff members and an award-winning dental office.
She founded Mission Kind (Kids In Need of Dentalcare), to help children aged 6-16 obtain much needed dental work at no charge. She is a coveted speaker at dental conventions and seminars. Her passion and dental expertise have garnered her media coverage on Rogers Daytime Television, Sirius XM Radio’s What She Said, GlobalTV, CTV, CP24, CTV NewsChannel, Newstalk1010 and more. She has been featured in the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, Elevate Magazine, Parents Magazine, Focus Magazine and more. She is the dental blogger for Huffington Post, Thrive Global and Inside Toronto. Her blogs are usually featured on the Oral Health Group website.
She loves to help the community. Every December our office offers free dental/dental hygiene services to people in need. In December 2017, we offered free services to 30 people from the Red Door Family Shelter. And not only that, we had a whole day planned for them, with lunch, a magic show, Santa made an appearance and gave the kids Christmas gifts and much more. This story was featured on Global News and Yahoo Canada to name a few. This December, we offered free services to teenager moms that cannot afford dental services. We had a whole day planned for them and their kids. She always comes up with great ideas to help the community and educate them on oral and dental health.
Sharilyn Amy - 2019 Women of Inspiration Humanitarian Award
Oceano Patagonia - Co-owner
Sharilyn Amy launched a humanitarian career in 1996 with the Canadian Red Cross. Working first in Southern Alberta, her career quickly expanded: a year later she began managing communications for Western Canada, and then not long after launched an international career in disaster response communications. Her international missions saw her work in the slums of Bangladesh, the flooded regions of China and Geneva, Switzerland to manage communications operations more globally. This time in humanitarian relief work forever changed her views on our personal social responsibility. Returning to Canada to raise her family, Sharilyn then worked nationally to help expand a child abuse prevention and anti-bullying program. She then established Go-To Group, a consultancy that focused on social enterprise development, research, strategic planning, thought leadership and facilitation in the non-profit and non-government sectors. She returned to school to complete her MBA in 2008, and from this experience expanded her client base and the number of other consultants employed in Go-To Group projects. Her goal was always to improve service delivery to the most vulnerable of our society in a way that supported their human dignity and challenged the ‘status quo’ of current assumptions in the sector. After 12 years of making an impact in the Calgary and Canadian NGO landscape, Sharilyn transitioned with her two children to Argentina. There she supported the establishment of a community economic development tourism project benefiting subsistence goat farming families in the Andes Mountains. Not long after, she developed and now runs an award-winning eco-hotel in the heart of Peninsula Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage site and wildlife reserve. This boutique hotel, Océano Patagonia, was built with investments in the latest technology available to reduce its environmental footprint, and always with an eye to social sourcing that supports the economic development of small family business and local communities. Currently, in addition to commercializing the hotel, Sharilyn provides consulting and coaching support to women-led small business, from start up to business optimization.
Desiree Bombenon - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Difference Maker Award
SureCall - President, CEO & Chief Disruption Officer
A Woman of Inspiration seeks to help others to achieve their best selves no matter the circumstance or the individual.
Desiree has been an inspiration to me, personally and to so many other people over the years. She approaches culture and equality both in our workplace and beyond with a level of passion and enthusiasm that is absolutely contagious! Having won consecutive awards for over 25 years in everything from leadership to employee engagement and service excellence it is evident that her attitude garners results. She was named in the top 100 most powerful women in Canada 2016 & 2017 and won the Calgary Business Leaders award in 2018. Our company SureCall has doubled in size and revenue from 2017 – 2018 and is a recognized champion of culture and diversity. As a woman entrepreneur, she has served on several boards including being the first and still only female Canadian Regional Chair for Young Presidents Organization, a worldwide organization of CEO and Presidents. She is improving the lives of women everywhere with her program - Hero Girls, which is a project she designed while at Harvard to foster gender equality and education for females in under-served communities. Hero Girls officially launched through HER International with its first group, on Oct 11th, 2018 the day of the Girl.
Mike Giannoumis - 2019 Women of Inspiration SupportHER Award
Paysafe - SVP, IT
I am nominating Mike Giannoumis as a Power Partner as he is a true example of a SupportHER and someone who believes in Diversity and Inclusion and shows this on a daily basis with his support of the women leaders inside our business. Mike is always someone who is lifting those up around him, he goes above and beyond with every initiative he gets involved in (and that's most of them). From participating and leading several fundraising initiatives inside of Paysafe to paying for all the women in his business unit to attend Women in Technology conferences. Mike is an advocate for women in the tech space, he ensures they get a seat at the table and helps them find their voice. Mike has the biggest heart of anyone I know, he will drop everything to make time for you if you need advice, support, or just an ear to listen. Paysafe is lucky to have a leader like Mike within our organization, he is the perfect example of someone who believes in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and represents these beliefs daily.
Dana Tessier - 2019 Women of Inspiration Trailblazer (STEM) Award
Shopify - Director of Knowledge Management
A Woman of Inspiration is someone that lifts people up and works towards the right thing, even if it’s a hard thing. She is not perfect - no one is, but she continues to strive to be better, and that inspires others around her to do the same.
Dana Tessier has designed and implemented knowledge management strategies for high tech companies in fast-paced and high-growth environments in locations such as the Philippines, the United States, and Canada. She is currently the Director of Knowledge Management at Shopify, where she is improving the knowledge resources for both the internal support team and for Shopify's customers. She is a graduate of McGill University’s Library and Information Studies program where she specialized in Knowledge Management. She has published and presented on e-learning, information architecture, information-seeking behavior, knowledge sharing, and knowledge management strategy.
Dr Gina Cherkowski - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Impact Award
STEM Learning Lab Inc. - Founder and CEO
Dr. Cherkowski is an educational game changer on a mission to ensure all students have access to high quality STEM learning experiences so they are aptly prepared for our technology-driven, dynamic world. Dr. Cherkowski holds a PhD in Mathematics Education as well as in Culture Studies in Education. She has extensive experience in teaching and learning as a remediation specialist, a classroom teacher, and as a university professor for both undergraduate and graduate courses in education both in Canada and internationally. Gina believes that play, exploration and meaning are critical factors for learning for all students. Gina strongly advocates that all students require and deserve opportunities to participate in high-level, hands-on, engaging and meaningful learning experiences so they are able to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Gina and her team believe that STEM Education combined with Arts and Entrepreneurialism provide pivotal learning opportunities that equip children with the skills, tools and mindsets they need for the 21st Century.
Dr. Cherkowski understands that math is a gatekeeper for many students. As a social justice math educator and learning activist, Gina believes that all kids can and should be proficient in math as well as the other STEM fields and fights to make this a reality. Her current research explores teaching math conceptually using spatial temporal reasoning to facilitate a deep understanding of mathematics for diverse learners. Another area of interest is the development of visual spatial skills through interaction in highly engaging, hands-on STEM and STEAM projects like coding, robotics and Maker Education.
Lesley Rigg - 2019 Women of Inspiration Vision Builder Award
University of Calgary - Dean, Faculty of Science
Lesley Rigg is an internationally recognized scholar with 20 years of experience in postsecondary education. Before coming to the University of Calgary, she was vice-president for research and innovation partnerships at Northern Illinois University (NIU). She was also the president of the Northern Illinois Research Foundation, which works to advance the educational research, public service and economic development mission of NIU.
Kyla Lee - 2019 Women of Inspiration Indigenous Leader Award
Acumen Law Corporation - Partner
Kyla Lee is a leader in the Canadian legal community. Kyla founded the Canadian Impaired Driving Lawyers Association, to unite lawyers across Canada. She is the Canadian Ambassador to the DUI Defence Lawyers Associatio. Kyla is internationally known as a leader in her field. Kyla actively works to advance women in the legal profession. She mentors two articled students, and through the CBA and the WLF, and lectures to the Indigenous Legal Clinic. Kyla organized a women’s suit drive for female law students to try to offset the prohibitive cost of women’s suits. The event was so successful that it is now an annual event at UBC Law. Kyla is working on a Representation Matters project to increase visibility of women in the legal profession by placing visual representations of women in courthouses, and is advocating for free menstrual products in courthouse bathrooms. In addition to being a partner at Acumen Law, Kyla also founded Brazen Bull Creative marketing agency. Kyla hosts a weekly video series, which has recently secured Beverly McLachlin as a guest star, and a weekly podcast with important guests including the BC Attorney General and BC Solicitor General, MLAs, scholars, authors, and legal minds.
Sarah Leamon - 2019 Women of Inspiration Integrity Award
Sarah Leamon Law Group - Founder and Senior Associate Lawyer
Sarah is a dedicated criminal defence lawyer, advocate and community volunteer. Born in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Sarah obtained an international education before ultimately settling in Vancouver, B,C. In addition to her Juris Doctor, Sarah has a Masters Degree in Womens' Studies from the University of British Columbia. Sarah was called to the Bar in B.C. in 2011, and called to the Bar in Alberta shortly thereafter. She practices in both provinces and has appeared in courts throughout the country. Her wide-recognized expertise in criminal law matters has caused her to be personally called on as a witness in the House of Commons and the Senate on five occasions to date. Sarah is regularly requested by the media to provide comment on a wide-variety fo legal, political and social matters and writes a regular opinion column for The Georgia Straight. Her writing also regularly appears in publications such as The Huffington Post, The Cannabis Life Network and The Her(b) Life. In her writing, Sarah regularly highlights issues that impact vulnerable, minority groups and deals with complex social, political and legal issues from a distinctly Canadian feminist perspective. In 2018, Sarah founded Sarah Leamon Law Group. Recognizing a distinct need for increased support and visibility of women and minorities in the criminal bar, Sarah exclusively employs women and visible minorities. She also offers mentorship to charities that support minorities groups and youth, such as SOAR Philanthropic Society, and helps high school students prepare for the Law Games Moot Trials in Victoria, B.C. every year. In 2017, Sarah founded the Womens' Association of Criminal Lawyers, which offers support, networking and educational opportunities for women in criminal law. In her spare time, Sarah volunteers as Board Chair as PACE Society in Vancouver's downtown East Side, providing front-line support services for survival sex-workers. Sarah also co-founded The Coven Club, which is a women's support and networking group for professionals and artists throughout Vancouver. Sarah is dedicated to the advancement of girls and women and to empowering those around her. In 2018, she was nominated as one of the "Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers" by Canadian Lawyer Magazine and in the same year she won Business in Vancouver's prestigious "Forty Under 40" Award. Sarah believes in social justice, equality and community awareness. She is dedicated to drawing attention to these issues while making the changes that are necessary to create a better tomorrow for the people of today. Sarah is a woman of inspiration.
Elfriede Holtkamp - 2019 Women of Inspiration Lifetime Achievement Award
Ecole Holt Couture (School of Sewing and Design) - Founder
Elfriede Holtkamp is a tough, inspirational, empowering women throughout her life. She was born in Rumania. During ww11 Elfriede and family lost everything and became refugees twice. Bringing with them only a few items and the precious family sewing machine. Elfriede learnt under a master seamstress in Prussia. Finishing her apprenticeship she started her first business in Strasburg. The business helped the family get through the wartime though sometimes only receiving food was a method of payment. Food of course was scarce at the time and appreciated. They later realized friends they left behind in Rumania likely lost their lives. Elfriedes family were just allowed to return to Germany luckily at that time having German decent. After the war she set up a business once more creating one of a kind garments. In 1953 she married and immigrated to Canada to be closer to family which previously left for Canada. Where she once again set up her business from her home in Calgary. Her services in Calgary were commissioned by the Duchess of Kent, cousin to Queen Elizabeth 11, and the Duke as a western suit for the Calgary Stampede. Which the Duchess was later photographed and on the front of a magazine in Australia wearing. Elfriede works can be seen in the Calgary round up Center as you walk the concourse from the train to a concert or hockey game possibly. One client donated a piece from the 1950s to the Glenbow Museum as she considered it as part of Calgary’s heritage worth preserving. Many Calgary Stampede Princess and Queen garments have been designed and made my Elfriede. Her clients have even kept her such a secret as friends and colleagues asked where the clothes are made. One colleague even followed a client of Elfriede to her office home wanting to know how to get these clothes made for herself. Unfortunately, as years passed Elfriede took a fall eventually losing the ability to sew as she once did. Wanting to share her knowledge of couture sewing she created a school in Calgary of the craft, 11 years ago they opened the school. I am submitting this award as a student of the school. The course she made includes a substantial amount of garments and techniques and spans from a two to a 4 year full time program. Yet, as I learn we all see easily it could’ve went on another 3 years at least to get all the knowledge in. It takes at least 10000 hours of sewing to be a true master in sewing and I believe my fellow students would agree. We create more than 18 designs through just a two year course. We pattern draft by a method Elfriede created much of and mastered herself to pass on. Many other government regulated schools offering design courses create only a 3 piece suit on a year with a pre-made pattern given to them. This school is one of a kind on this continent. Unfortunately, we wait to be gifted by her presence since school started as our master couturier lives above our school. Her daughter Jutta Holtkamp took on her moms dream as Elfriede is unable to get around so well anymore. Jutta has created alongside her mom for many years. This much reminds me of my daughter under the table waiting for my attention as I sew for hours.
Elfriede was born in 1925. This award would be so wonderful for so many heartwarming reasons. She is such a inspiration to me as she is to many. This award is well deserving.
Rhonda Goldberg - 2019 Women of Inspiration Inspire Award
Oh Naturals - CEO
“Do what you love and love what you do”. Rhonda Goldberg, is the founder of Oh! Naturals Flavoured Snacks Inc.– specializing in flavoured Banana chips and flavoured Sweet Potatoes. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, she is a branding expert who helps companies craft their brands and turning their visions into reality. All brands start with a story, says Rhonda, and her job is to help tell them. Over the years, she has pioneered many companies brands to market, and in the past 5 years, she decided to create her own product to give lend credence to what she does for others. To this end she developed a fruit and vegetable snack company called Oh! Naturals! She saw the need for a healthy, vegan, and naturally healthy snack food in the Canadian market, and within 24 months Oh! Naturals flavoured banana chips and flavoured Sweet Potato fries can be found in major national and international retail locations across Canada. In 2019 Oh! Naturals expanded their snacks into Japan, Korea and working on expansion into Europe. As a result of her successes, she has the honour of sitting on the board on the Health Advisory board at SAIT to help guide students towards a healthy future. Making a difference in people’s lives from both a business and customer perspective is what drives Rhonda forward. Regardless of where we are in life or business, she believes we all have three main things in common: we all want to be loved, appreciated and respected.
Michael Hyatt - 2019 Women of Inspiration Power Partner Award
BlueCat - Co-Founder
Women of Inspiration don’t just “talk” about change – their actions and lives embody positive change. Michale Hyatt
Michael Hyatt is the Co-Founder of BlueCat which was recognized March 27th, 2019 the Best Workplaces in Canada for Women 2019. As a self-made millionaire by the age of 25, he is a mentor and investor in many start-ups, including the Rotman School of Business Creative Destruction Lab and The Founders Institute. He has built two highly successful tech firms valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, and is a recipient of the Top 40 Under 40™ award, while also a commentator on CBC News. Outside of regular work, Michael chairs his family’s charitable foundation called The Hyatt Family Foundation, which invests in Canadian charities. So far they have focused on education and women’s charities. Michael recognizes that with cultural shifts in the digital economy over the past decade, women age 40 and over struggle to secure work and are unemployed for longer periods than younger women. While they typically have experience and knowledge valuable to organizations, unlike men, they often face age, as well as gender discrimination in the job search process. His clients, as well as their referral agencies, have spoken: they are facing age discrimination/ageism in their job search, which negatively impacts their confidence in their ability to land a job.
As a Power Partner, Michael is leading the charge and is an advocate for change and raising awareness to champion for women through many charitable organizations empowering women to succeed.
- OneProsper – In rural India, poor girls are forced to walk far distances each day to transport water, and their parents’ subsistence farming income is insufficient to pay for school fees. We fund water systems for the family, and school fees (and bikes) for the girls, so they can go to school. Their world opens up.
- Dress for Success – We’ve been an active funder for many years and recently developed and funded a new program specifically to help women over 40 find jobs. We had a hugely successful career fair in 2019 and hope to do it again.
- Help Fill a Dream- I sponsor children, many young girls, who are very ill and sometimes are terminally ill. University of Toronto CDL – Girls Program –We have a deficit of women running businesses. To change this I mentor and fund a program at the CDL that brings young girls (Grade 9-11) into a startup business setting, where they become highly engaged and are encouraged to start businesses of their own.
Julian Smit - 2019 Women of Inspiration SupportHER™
J.D.Nevins - Owner
Julian is continuously supporting and advocating for women. He actively seeks out to obtain diverse perspectives and connects will all types of women to gain a better understanding of their talents in their respective industries, fostering a network culture that provides genuine and authentic support. He roots for women, has their backs, is encouraging and is supportive of their efforts. He is always available when I want to bounce ideas off him and is authentically in your corner. He is a constant reminder to never put limitations on our abilities and that we are capable of accomplishing anything we set our mind to. Julian encourages the women in his network by showing respect and enthusiasm and easily stepping aside letting these women take the lead and the spotlight.
Maria Sofia - 2019 Women of Inspiration Mentorship Award
WinMagic - VP of Marketing and Sales North America
I have been working in the technology industry since the age of 17 and have been fortunate enough to work for 4 different fortune 500 companies as well as with small start up’s. I started in this industry as Marketing Assistant have worked my way up through the ranks of sales starting as an inside rep, moving up to outside sales. When I started with my current company WinMagic back in 2010 I started as an account manager and was quickly promoted to the team lead. After a couple of years as team lead, I was then further promoted to Director of Corporate Sales –North America. After 6 years at the Director level, I finally gained a seat at the Executive table earning my current title of Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Sharon A.M. MacLean - 2019 Women of Inspiration Impact Award
World Gate Media - President
Entrepreneurship, Magazine Publishing, and Social Marketing are the threads that weave throughout my career. They reflect my professional life driven largely by purpose and relationships — most recently through WorldGate Media and Boards of Directors for TechInvest Alberta, Alberta Council of Technologies, RoadShowz/StreetSeenz, and GroYourBiz.
Yet, it was through starting up and running Edmontonians magazine for 21 years where a reputation for community engagement flourished. In some ways, I see the magazine that covered leaders of commerce and the community as a predecessor to social media!
My world changed dramatically in 2010 given the disruption of traditional media which led to the sale of the magazine…and my launch into new media.
The disruption opened doors for an investor start-up in online wellness with an international team. Experience with journalism media and community publishing incubated an understanding of content creation, distribution, and network platforms. The first phase of my early professional life began in PR and Fund Development. Thank you, MacEwan University and Toastmasters! Every skill acquired during the foundational years has been leveraged to serve my passion for professional communications in the digital age. Social enterprise fired up all my neurons and stretched my resilience. I now help business owners build their dream using traditional as well as modern forms of communications marketing.
Trish Ronan - 2019 Women of Inspiration Impact Award
ENJO Canada - President
As President of ENJO Canada, Trish Ronan inspires hundreds of small business owners, all with the same mission - to help Canadians rid their homes of harmful chemicals and to keep their family, and the earth, healthy. She works tirelessly with small business owners (predominantly women) to overcome their own fears and limits, gain confidence and skill, and make a difference in their local communities. Trish has also introduced and promoted the Helios Projekt to ENJO countries around the world, which is a project dedicated to building homes and bettering the lives of the extreme poor.
Shelly Elsliger- 2019 Women of Inspiration Innovative Leader Award
Linked-Express - President
Shelly Elsliger is an engaging LinkedIn Trainer and President of Linked-Express. She is also referred to as LinkedIn Superwoman. Shelly coaches and empowers executives, diverse leaders, aspiring women leaders, business students and job seekers, as well as corporate teams; inspiring them to maximize their professional branding potential, social influence, and leadership ability on LinkedIn.
Shelly is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), recognized as a Woman you Need to Know by the National Women Speakers Association and a Women of Achievement and made it to the list of globally recognized LinkedIn Training Experts in 2017. She is also the LinkedIn Trainer for Rotman Commerce at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario. Shelly’s diverse experience as a professional LinkedIn Trainer and Coach allows her to bring a unique breadth of knowledge, as well as an aspect of fun and passion, to all her workshops and speaking engagements especially "LinkedIn in High-Heels: Rise Up and Lead Online"; her signature workshop aimed at helping women business leaders ( and aspiring female leaders) successfully rise up, own their space and find their voice online.
Andrea Twizell - 2019 Women of Inspiration The Nest Award
Designed4wealth - Life Insurance Advisor
Andrea started her career in the financial industry over 30 years ago and held a variety of positions with some of Canada’s most prominent players in the mortgage business. Andrea is a proven sales leader with talent selling quality and service over price. Comprehensive knowledge of financial products including banking, mortgages, investments and Life Insurance. Exceptional communicator with a consultative sales style, strong negotiation skills, and problem-solving abilities.
For the last 11 years, Andrea has balanced family life and my career, as a mother of 2 boys (young men now) and now raising them alone. Her priority is family first and seeing her boys grow up into young men and both have completed their post-secondary education has made her proud. The balance between work and family is not easy, finding and management takes discipline, dedication and a lot of hard work.
A strong work ethic and drive is a major key to her success in family and career.
Sydney Cowling - 2019 Women of Inspiration Diversity and Inclusiveness Award
SEEUniqueness - Co-Founder
Sydney is an incredible young woman who has chosen to shine her light with Down Sydnrome. At the age of 3, she underwent intensive treatment for Leukaemia. Due to days and months of isolation, she spent hours watching and memorizing musicals and movies of magic that sparked her love of being on stage. Sydney’s expressive language is limited yet through song and her own form of communication through connection; she shares her powerful message of acceptance, kindness, and seeing through the eyes of love to audiences of all sizes. She is a Co-Founder of SEE Uniqueness, a community volunteer, inspirational speaker, author of a children's book, and is training to teach yoga. Her ‘Sydney’s Million’ campaign has touched people from around the world as she shares her message that we are all ‘perfect exactly as we are' spreads to the hearts of everyone she meets. Sydney is influencing the landscape of how we celebrate our Uniqueness.
Vanessa Vakharia - 2019 Women of Inspiration Vision Builder
The Math Guru - Founder & CEO
Vanessa Vakharia is the founder and CEO of The Math Guru, a support system for youth experiencing stress or difficulty with math. Vanessa takes an innovative and holistic approach to math education and has built a business that provides kids with educational support, higher grades, and helps them build the confidence they need to find success in all areas of life.
Vanessa’s vision for a new approach to math education inspired her to write Math Hacks: Cool Tips + Less Stress = Better Marks in 2018. Last year, launched XAM Study Lounge, Toronto’s first pop-up study space. XAM invites high school students to de-stress and prepare for exams in a supportive environment. She also shares her philosophy of STEM education and best practices with educators across Canada and The United States and encourages others to understand how issues of mental health affect young students and create inclusive learning spaces. She helps those intimidated by math excel in STEM and access the opportunities it affords them.
Vanessa is a role model for female entrepreneurs, her growing team at The Math Guru, and the youth she mentors.
Brenda McWilson-Okorogba - 2019 Women of Inspiration Youth Advocate Award
Founder - Moments With Bren
Brenda is a multiple award-winning Youth Education and Engagement Specialist, Scholarship Search Strategist, Grant Writer and a Community Builder. She is experienced in diverse sectors, self-paced education/heutagogy, facilitating youth programs focused on women and girls’ rights, community sustainability, cultural inclusion, mental health and strategic intervention coaching, effective storytelling workshops, life-changing journaling, team-building exercises, leadership training, and creative wisdom circles. Brenda manages two major projects - Momentswithbren Scholarship Series and Skills Training, and a Compassion Fund. She works to foster, inspire and create opportunities for youths and support initiatives focused on tackling systemic inequality on a global scale. She is an alumna of the Think Big Lead Now Program 2018 with YWCA Canada and a 2017 Active Citizens Social Enterprise fellow on social innovation and entrepreneurship organized by UNACanada and the British Council. Brenda currently serves as a youth ambassador in 4 international organizations. Throughout her experiences she got the opportunity travel and network which has helped be share ideas and skills.
Kaiya Gamble - 2019 Women of Inspiration Youth Excellence Award
Kaiya's Music - Singer, Songwriter, Philanthropist, Social Entrepreneur
For several years Kaiya has been an inspiration to those around her. Her teachers have said she is “one of a kind”,a quiet leader who supports others to be their best selves. A top fundraiser at her school, she is also in the leadership program. She combined her love of arts with her desire to make change when she wrote and acted in a play for her entire school on their annual Pink Shirt day. In recognition of her hard work, Kaiya was chosen by her school to attend WE Day. In her personal time, she has spent summers raising funds for charitable organizations, most recently for the Tom Baker Cancer Centre’s Intensive Palliative Care Ward Musical Therapy Program. Her cheque presentation day was combined with homemade cookies and a music concert performed by Kaiya for the staff, patients, and their families. As a singer - songwriter in 2018 she graced the stage at the #WOI 2018 Gala, the Bella Theatre, and the Jack Singer Concert Hall. Kaiya has realized that music can heal, can inspire and can bring us together. Her hope is that through her music she will bring light to as many people as she can.
Rochelle Laflamme - 2019 Women of Inspiration Indigenous Leader Award
EPIC Alliance - Co-Founder
Rochelle Laflamme is a dynamic woman from Saskatoon and co-owner of Epic Alliance Inc., a successful Real Estate Investment Company that currently holds 50 million dollars in real estate acquisitions. When Rochelle sees an opportunity to grow professionally or personally, she seizes it. No task is beneath her and no obstacle is too great. She works as close to 24/7 as she can, and there’s a reason for it: Rochelle leads a life that she doesn’t want to vacate. Every day, she encounters new, exciting challenges. Every day, she gets to solve them in a strategic, creative way. In addition, Rochelle is in the process of attaining her electrical Journeyman certification from Saskatchewan Polytechnic. As a First Nations Woman in Saskatchewan, Rochelle aims to represent females and Aboriginal persons' on a global scale.
Christine Nielsen - 2019 Women of Inspiration Global Achievement Award
Contrast Consulting and Coaching - Founder
A Woman of Inspiration is a woman who is willing to give up who you are today for who you may become. It's a simple model that I live by. Women who inspire me are the ones that have gone through challenges and keep going with no loss of enthusiasm.
With over 20 years of experience in transforming and driving a variety of businesses forward, Christine is a master coach and an expert at helping organizations and individuals achieve greater levels of performance and success. But more importantly, she is a wife, mother and friend who is committed to growing a meaningful and impactful consulting business on a global level. After taking a break from the corporate world to focus on her family of 3 young children, she was reminded of her passion for consulting and rejoined the working world as an entrepreneur, starting her own consulting business allowing her to grow a global empire while still making her home life and family her primary focus. Although Christine is travelling around the globe and juggling a busy work/life schedule, she always operates from a stand point of giving back. She is always offering support to other entrepreneurs and providing valuable connections and insights helping other people grow their businesses'. Although she has fiery red hair, she also has a heart of gold and deserves to be honoured and recognized.
Cassandra Nordell - 2019 Women of Inspiration Game Changer Award
William Standen Co. - CEO, Co-founder
A Woman of Inspiration is unapologetically themselves, isn’t afraid to push the status quo or innovate. Someone who understands it takes a certain level of grit to be a woman in business, but also leads with their feminine energy and doesn’t try to be anything but their authentic self.
Cassandra Nordell is a Canadian entrepreneur and an accomplished designer. She is a driving force behind three thriving businesses in Sarnia and London, Ontario, Canada. In 2016 Cassandra was named one of the TOP FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS in Canada on the W100 list, ranked by Profit and Canadian Business Magazines. As Co-Founder and CEO, Cassandra’s leadership has steered William Standen Co. into prestigious positions such as Canadian Business’ PROFIT HOT 50 ranking. In 2013, and the PROFIT 500 list in 2016. In 2017 Cassandra was also named one of the top innovators worldwide in the kitchen and bath industry. Locally, Cassandra has been honoured with business leadership and entrepreneurial awards. Cassandra is a firm believer that good design can change the way people live. Through an innovative approach to home design, her companies work has been featured by a number of magazines and publications, both international and domestic, as well as on HGTV Canada. Cassandra’s belief in healthy spaces had led William Standen Co. to be a leader in the U.S and Canada in green design, being awarded year after year with the most eco-friendly kitchens in an international industry design competition.
Jamie Kramer - 2019 Women of Inspiration Millennial Leader
Manager, Consulting - Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion
Jamie Kramer, MA, CHRP continuously strives to advance marginalized communities in society and is working towards achieving that through her professional and personal goals. She brings five years of experience working in diversity, accessibility, and inclusion to the role of Manager, Consulting at CCDI. She has presented at numerous international conferences on the ethical considerations of universal accessibility - a topic she feels passionate about. Prior to joining CCDI, Jamie worked for the City of Windsor implementing the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. Jamie was responsible for developing Employee Resource Groups along with innovative ideas including creating Blind Date with a (Diverse) Book to initiate conversations around diversity. In 2018, she received the Exceptional Customer Service Award (Rookie of the Year) for her work on the project. Jamie has worked at every level of government and brings this knowledge of the public sector needs to CCDI. She was recognized as the Millennial Leader of the Year at the 2019 Women of Inspiration Awards Gala. Jamie spends her downtime volunteering to do more of the same within other organizations. Jamie currently sits as a member of the Youth Advisory Group for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and serves as their professional development, alumni relations, and events coordinator on the Steering Committee. With the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA), Jamie is working with a team to assist with recruiting women and diverse candidates for their Board of Directors. Additionally, she volunteers with a non-profit organization that works with marginalized young women entering into STEM programs. Jamie holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa with a Specialization in Political Science and a minor in Classical Studies, an Ontario Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Niagara College, and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Windsor.
Christma Nathali - 2019 Women of Inspiration The Nest Award
Beauty Addicts Inc - Owner
A Woman of Inspiration is when a woman who portrays strong characteristics of independence, conviction, and aspiration.
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nathali has been an influential leader in the progression and support of women throughout the world. A proud mother of 14-year-old daughter Bhavna Jaya, she gained the inspiration to create a world where women are celebrated and encouraged to chase their dreams.
Through her own hardship, Nathali was able to become a successful businesswoman whilst travelling the world learning 4 different languages. Skilled in fashion design, hair styling, markup artistry, acupuncture and hypnotherapy she has received a number of accolades to include Best Business Beauty Salon by Fans Choice Awards in May 2018, Nominated as Lash Artist Integrity and Customer Awards by NALA (National Association Lash Artists) in 2019 and the Top Beauty Salon in Calgary by Choice Awards in 2019. Her passion is to pass on her knowledge and frequently conducts workshops to teach young women her craft and inspire them to explore the world. Nathali believes that culture and community play an important role in developing women as it provides a support network for growth. Part of her journey saw her become the Vice President of a not-for-profit organization, Budaya Nusantara, which promotes the preservation of heritage and culture through community outreach programs. By utilizing her skills she can provide community events to include fashion runways, dancing classes, musicals, and various other classes. By sharing her story she becomes an inspiration for others to overcome hardship and focus on qualities like resilience, integrity, and confidence.
Karen Sherbut - 2019 Women of Inspiration Inspire Award
Safe Haven Foundation - President
A less than ideal childhood ultimately prepared Karen Sherbut for the role of her life as a role model, mentor, and humanitarian. In this capacity she provides what she so desperately had once needed; ultimately improving the lives of many young women, their families, and loved ones. Karen’s dream of providing for homeless girls came to fruition in 1996, when Karen and her husband founded Safe Haven Foundation of Canada. In a volunteer capacity at the helm of the Foundation, Karen’s steadfast commitment continues to shape a better and brighter future for all of us. With 40 years of senior management and leadership experience, Karen has been extensively involved in the development and implementation of business plans at both grassroots and national levels. An engaging and innovative leader, Karen’s focus on results-oriented programs, financial accountability, public relations, and award-winning campaigns have provided an enviable advantage to the Foundation. Karen’s passion remains visible and reflective through the time she dedicates not only to the Foundation but to the many boards and advisory roles she has undertaken over the years.
In addition, for the past 22 years, Karen has been employed as the Vice President of Marketing at Britgary Properties. In recent years, Karen’s expertise has expanded to include operations and strategic planning of some of the Britgary’s newest endeavours.