Women of Inspiration

Nominees Meet our 2018 Women of Inspiration Nominees. Deadline to Nominate June 15, 2018

Join us for our premier celebration and empowerment event. Woman of Inspiration Awards event is open to the public, features inspirational keynote speakers, and celebrates women who are making an impact in the community and around the globe.

Take this opportunity to connect and be inspired by women who are leading by example. Whether you are a friend, colleague, sponsor or supporter, take this opportunity to celebrate you and be inspired to do more and be more. Save the date to join us in celebrating Women of Inspiration the evening of Thursday, September 20, 2018, at the TELUS Conventions Centre.

Captain Debora Bergeson

Calgary Fire Department - Captain

Deb is the first female Captain of the Calgary Fire Department. Working in a male dominated environment, she has persevered and trail-blazed a career as a professional firefighter. She is a natural leader in all areas; always respectful of others and leading by example, in all instances. Captain Bergeson has a lifetime of achievements including winning six Canadian Championship titles in women’s singles luge over her decade on the National Luge Team as well as holding the track record at Canada Olympic Park. Prior to her successful athletic career, she earned two bachelor degrees from the University of Calgary and served as a student leader at the University for most of her time on campus.

Joining the Calgary Fire Department in 1998, as the third woman hired in the history of the CFD, Deb was able to capitalize on her assets of strength, tenacity, customer service, and drive to succeed. She has advanced and celebrates progress regarding the acceptance of females in the fire service. She has dedicated herself to advancing the culture of the fire department to be more inclusive and responsive to individual needs of citizens.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ….
A woman of inspiration is a risk taker. She is an activated person with the courage to create a better world for those around her. She is dedicated to the common good, even against great odds. Women of inspiration make decisions based on bringing their inner conviction into harmony with their outer acts. Captain Debora Bergeson.

What it means to be recognized ….
Recognition as a woman of inspiration puts fuel in my tank. It is acknowledgement that my own integrity and efforts are worthy of celebration. It shows I belong to a movement that asserts collaborating in something that violates the rights and dignity of individuals is not acceptable. Being a woman of inspiration means that I have the skills and actions necessary to continue taking my values into the larger world. It means that I may be a role model for others and that I will positively change the trail for others who follow. Those “others” may be contemporary colleagues, or the generations of females who follow, knowing that they can be anything they want to be. Our calling as women of inspiration is to shed light in dark places and to continue affecting positive change.

SupportHER ...
I give credit to my parents who instilled the core values of being a hard worker and good person. I am supported and celebrated by my husband, Rick (also a Captain with the Calgary Fire Department) and by our young daughter who is a true cheerleader. I am driven to prove to children that anything is possible and that being a woman is not a handicap. In addition, many of my female and male colleagues are, themselves, dedicated to contributing to a capable, proud, positive, and inclusive fire service. Together, we push to overcome the barriers to progress.

Anaida Deti

DentalX - CEO/RDH

I immigrated to Canada from Albania 16 years ago with my husband. We had only a few hundred dollars with us and a big dream of building something ours but not much else. I spoke no English and my school meant nothing here so I had to start everything from scratch. I worked seven days a week while going to school full time. After a few years of finishing school and getting my licence as a registered dental hygienist, I founded DentalX in 2013. DentalX started with only me, booking appointments in my car and seeing patients in the late afternoons or Sundays after I worked all day for other dental offices. Now I have about 12 staff members and we work Monday to Saturday. DentalX is an award-winning dental clinic in North York, providing a full range of dental services. I have made it my mission to educate patients on the importance of dental health. I founded Mission Kind (Kids In Need of Dentalcare), to help children aged 6-16 obtain much needed dental work at no charge. I am a coveted speaker at dental conventions and seminars. My passion and dental expertise has garnered me media coverage on Rogers Daytime Television, Sirius XM Radio’s What She Said, GlobalTV, CTV, CP24, CTV NewsChannel, Newstalk1010 and more. I have been featured in the Toronto Star, Elevate Magazine, Parents Magazine, Focus Magazine and more. I am the dental blogger for Huffington Post, Thrive Global and Inside Toronto. My blogs are usually featured on Oral Health Group website. I love to educate the community on oral and dental health and promote dental hygiene in general.
I have won several awards: 2018 CHCH TV Business Excellence Awards for Business who Gives Back, 2018 ODHA Community Service Award, 2017 Urban Hero Honour Award in the Health category, 2016 Patient's Choice Award Winner by Opencare. I was a 2015 Mompreneur Award of Excellence finalist. I was selected as the 2018 Top3 outstanding women for Entrepreneurship and Business in the GTA from The Waterfront Awards. Patients and their oral health are my primary concern and I give them the best possible treatment. My goal is to have every patient of mine smiling! The most important thing, I am a proud mom of two beautiful kids, Samuel 14 years old and Iliana 3 years old. They are my biggest accomplishments of my life!

A Woman of Inspiration….
A Woman of Inspiration is a woman that has a passion for what she does. Works very hard everyday and helps when she can the community. A woman that even when problems arise, nothing stops her and comes back stronger than ever. Anaida Deti – CEO, Dental X | #WOI2018

What it means to be recognized ….
Being recognized as a woman of inspiration would mean the world to me and my family. I would be recognized for all the hard work and sacrifices I have done all these years.

SupportHER's ...
My family has been the biggest support, my amazing staff and the best patients on earth.

Audrey Mascarenhas

Questor Technology Inc - President and CEO

Audrey Mascarenhas has worked in energy for over 35 years with Gulf Canada Resources Ltd. and Questor Technology Inc. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and a Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Calgary. She is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineers. Audrey served as a distinguished lecturer with the Society of Petroleum Engineers in 2010/2011. She is a member of the Schulich Industry Engineering Advisory Council and currently chairs the Canadian Federal governments clean technology strategy table. Audrey was the recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Prairies Award for Cleantech and Environmental Services and received a national citation for Values-Based Innovation. She was chosen by Business in Calgary as a 2014 Leaders of Tomorrow, is a 2014 Board Diversity 50 cohort and one of Canada’s 2017 Clean50. Audrey is a fellow of the Energy Futures Lab, serves on the Governor General’s Innovation Awards assessment committee and Questor was recently recognized by the Cleantech Innovation exchange (CIX) as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Cleantech Canadian Companies.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ….
A women that boldly champions change that has a positive impact and inspire those around her to take on the challenge for change.

What it means to be recognized ….
I have passionately believed in being a role model to showcase that girls and women can succeed in a male dominated world and be whatever they want to be. Being recognized as a woman of inspiration would show others that it is possible and also showcase that women can contribute greatly to society with their skill. And yes, women are good at math and science.

SupportHER's ...
I have had many role models and mentors that inspire and challenge me daily. My largest supporter was my Mother who fought against many cultural norms to make sure I received a great education and helped me believe that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to do.

Filomena Abdi

La Brezza Ristorante - Owner

Filomena Abdi is the proud owner of La Brezza Ristorante, Bridgeland’s original “Little House on the Corner” where she specializes in serving up authentic Italian cuisine and making each patron feel like they are part of the family. She is proud and privileged to carry on this legacy built lovingly by her late husband, Marco Abdi. Under her leadership, together with a strong team of employees, she has secured La Brezza’s position as a consistently top-rated dining destination in Calgary.
Before her career as a restauranteur, she worked as a primary school teacher sharing her love of learning with young minds and setting the foundations for their lifelong journey of personal and academic flourishing. Teaching continued as she moved on to the Further Education Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping members of marginalized groups develop literacy and parenting skills, first as a facilitator and then as the Program Coordinator.
Filomena’s most challenging and rewarding role has been that of mother to three wonderful and successful children, no doubt setting the foundation for her continued success as a community leader.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
When I look at a woman who inspires me I see someone who exudes kindness, generosity, passion, non-judgment and confidence. She strives to empower women by sharing her story in a safe and caring environment – lifting them up and helping them to reach their fullest potential.

What it means to be recognized ...
Being recognized as a woman of inspiration means that I have succeeded in my efforts to empower others to make changes for the betterment of their lives through positive reinforcement, kindness, caring and a strong desire to be helpful. It means that by sharing my story of strength, courage and dignity, and rising above tragedy and adversity to become even stronger than before, I have nurtured in others the belief that they, too, can overcome adversity and trauma to become the best version of themselves.

SupportHER's ...
My husband left me a legacy of love, humanitarianism, generosity and respect embodied in La Brezza. Wonderful friends, fellow restauranteurs and family helped me to overcome the barriers I encountered. Nothing would have been possible without their support and kindness. As a business owner himself, my brother helped to run the restaurant in the first few months and my daughter, who had worked with her father the year before, was able to guide me through many aspects of operating the business. My mother, a woman of inspiration in her own right, worked double shifts tirelessly in the first three months of my new role as owner and without her I surely would have had to close my doors. My cousin, my rock and my best friend provided emotional, financial and spiritual support. She was by my side everyday, even when I refused her help. She helped me to heal by being relentless as my pillar of support even when I refused, telling me that I could do it and that everything would be okay. Marco’s customers embraced me as the new owner and the new friends that I made encouraged me to have a social life and to once again receive help and love after my loss. I began to live my life again with new hope. It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to run a business and help one heal from trauma and loss.

Laura Watson

Venture Coaching - Business Coach

Laura Watson, MSW, ACC coaches entrepreneurs to love life and business! For 30 years, Laura has been the ultimate “empowerment agent”. In her early career, Laura helped families and young people overcome abuse, addictions and conflict. In her current career, Laura coaches entrepreneurs across North America to create and fulfill on powerful possibilities for themselves and their businesses. Nominated for the 2010 Canadian Coach of the Year, Laura built an international coaching practice while staying connected with her husband and children and pursuing her passion for ballroom dancing. While still coaching, Laura is growing a real estate investment business and has launched a dance-related information and e-commerce business. Laura is an active participant and advocate for personal and professional growth. Through several programs she lives a self-examined life because her motto is, “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Laura understands how dedicated and committed entrepreneurs are to their businesses. She often sees them sacrificing their wellness and relationships while they build their companies. Valuing clarity, connection, balance and fun Laura helps business owners enjoy success without sacrifice. Entrepreneurs uncover blind-spots and work-smarter-not-harder so they can reclaim their time, make more money and have more fun!

My definition of a Woman of Inspiration is ...
A Woman of Inspiration is open, accepting and understanding. She holds a vision and she takes action in alignment with that vision, even when she’s scared to do so. She enrolls others to take action with her. She lives life on her own terms. She is not perfect. She falls down and makes mistakes. What’s inspirational is that she gets back up, takes responsibility, forgives herself and tries again.

What being recognized means to me ...
Being recognized as a “Woman of Inspiration” is humbling. My personal motto is, “be the change you wish to see in the world” and this honor is validation that I am on the right track, living into my mission.

I define my life purpose as, “helping others be the best they can be”. Being recognized as a “Woman of Inspiration” means that someone has been moved by my example to create something new for themselves. If that’s the case, there is nothing greater in this world then getting to live one’s purpose.

SupportHER's ...
My support comes from my friends, my coaches and most of all, my family. My friends are (mostly) dancers who check in with me, encourage me and give me feedback. My coaches hold a vision of me being bigger then I think I can be. They reassure me, challenge me, help me think outside my current paradigm and they make it safe for me to stretch outside my comfort zone. But my biggest supporter is my husband. He is “the wind beneath my wings” who “raises me up to more than I can be”. He listens and challenges me. He believes in me when I don’t believe in myself and he somehow balances encouragement with the right amount of push when I want to give up. My husband is a stand for my success and he is the reason I get to fulfill on my goals and aspirations.

Toni-Marie Ion-Brown

Calgary Petroleum Club - General Manager

Toni-Marie Ion-Brown is reminded daily that dreams do in fact come true. She recently made history by becoming the first woman General Manager at the helm of the Calgary Petroleum Club. The position came at a very significant time as the downtown facility was about to undergo a major renovation. Toni-Marie welcomed the challenge. The Calgary Petroleum Club completed a full facility renovation in the summer of 2017 and, Toni-Marie is proud to announce the project was on- time and under budget. After post-secondary education, she stepped through the doors of the iconic landmark in 1990 and instantly felt like she belonged, and could make a difference. Starting as a server, she quickly moved on to
the role of a supervisor. In 1999 she would become the Club’s Food and Beverage Manager. She was allowed to explore possibilities and so created compensation, bonus and retention programs that benefitted her team. But, Toni-Marie always knew she had more to offer, and set a new goal to be the first female GM of the Club. Now it was time to work even harder.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration can come in many forms; similar to beauty. She is a person who starts each day with a true passion to be the best she can be daily. She is honest but will never be described as brutally honest. She encourages and challenges other to achieve more and eliminate "no "from their language. She sees obstacles as opportunities and enjoys challenges. She is competitive, and her biggest competition is herself. She is a busy, multi -tasker with the ability to care of others, sometimes forgetting that caring starts with self.

What being recognized means to me ...
Being nominated as a WOI is an honour. It is easy to give praise and recognition to others. It is less easy to accept the responsibility of completing a nomination such as this.
I work in an environment that allows me to share conversations and be in the boardroom with remarkably gifted people. The examples are many and they are recognized leaders in the city and across this country. An important responsibility I have is in developing our Leaders and Mentors Program and our Women, Mentors and Friends annual event. When it was suggested that I be a featured speaker, I respectfully declined. It is much easier to celebrate others. I struggled with accepting this nomination. As I do when faced with a tough decision, I asked for advice from my support system. Their encouragement brought me to this decision. I am honoured. I work incredibly hard at a job I truly love, and sharing my story hopefully encourages others to chase their dreams.

SupportHER's ...
I consider myself very fortunate to have the support of many incredible people. One of my earliest supporters was the late club President Bud McCaig. In the early 1990's , I received my first promotion from server to " hostess". My male equivalent was known as a "captain" and there was wage disparity. It was frustrating, and I asked my husband what he thought I should do. He wisely advised me to " fix it- but don't fight it". I took my concerns to the board, and the club did fix it. The job description was re- written and the food and beverage supervisor role was created and job parity became a reality.

Heather Erlen

Canadian Labour Congress, Co-Founder Virgin Beauty B!tch Podcast - Alberta Representative, Advocate

Heather Erlen is the current Canadian Labour Congress' Alberta Representative. In this role, Heather works across the province in bringing awareness to relationship violence prevention and provides means for Albertans to get involved. She also works alongside the Alberta Federation of Labour and seven Labour Councils to support community members in building progressive, prosperous futures.

As a former NDP Constituency Manager, Heather has a history of political activism - particularly on issues like human rights, gender equality and anti-discrimination. She's focused on addressing these issues through her involvement in healthy relationship's curriculum development and through advocating within the LGBTQ+ movement. These facets have been integral parts of her engagement and commitment to social justice.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A Woman of Inspiration stays true to her authentic self, she brings her passion and determination to set and achieve her aspirations while simultaneously encouraging the advancement of others. In true leadership, she purposefully creates opportunities for the growth of those around her, both personally and professionally. The more you know her, the more she shows you that achieving your dreams is possible, and there are people around you to help make it happen.

What it means to be nominated….
In our society, all too often, women are discouraged to toot their own horn. In order to see the value of what women bring to the table, both at the board room tables and the family tables, women need to feel the support from other women, men and persons of other genders. The support to feel empowered to share what we’ve accomplished, to be adamant that our views and opinions have a great deal of power in this world, and to love ourselves without feeling guilty for being our fabulous selves!

Being recognized as a Woman of Inspiration means all of these things to me and more. It means that women have a community to know they are supported, it means that we WILL stand up for each other and applaud each others efforts. It means that we will not back down from knowing our own importance in this world and actively pursue the advancement of other women. It means that other women see this in me, and that further fuels my fire to do more to elevate women.

SupportHER's ……
It sounds cliché, but my mom is the main reason I am able to be who I am today. After three years of wondering how she was going to do it, she left my father and was an amazing single parent. We lived in low-income housing, lived beside people struggling with addiction and abuse, and she still found time to instill in me that I could do whatever I set my mind to.
Thanks to my mother, at age 8, she got me a mentor with Big Brothers, Big Sisters – her name is Michelle and we remain friends to this day. Michelle is an entrepreneur and she showed me how to dream beyond what was my reality. She showed me how she started her business in interior design, and what risks she took on in the process. “Life is about calculating your passions with the risks needed to achieve your ultimate goals.” That has always stuck with me, and served as a great guidance in how I have made many meaningful life choices.

She has been closely involved with the K-12 Wellness Education review and redesign. In doing so, she has worked in concert with teachers, professors, indigenous leaders, students, non-profits and countless other individuals in designing the future of relationship violence prevention..

Kimberley Van Vliet

WaVv and CONVERGX® Conference - Founder and CEO

Kimberley founded WāVv over ten years ago to follow in her family’s legacy of service to Canada through Aerospace, Defence & Security. With four generations behind her, she specifically is uniquely positioned from the civilian side ensuring that the best technology, research, and innovation is provided to the women and men in our armed forces. WāVv was created to diligently engage in securing those vital elements.

Global efforts require global partners which is why the business linkage of the Energy sector is valued. Recognized as one of the top five Canadian influential women in Defence, Kimberley has enabled the alignment of the two sectors. Solutions and innovative technology requirements in both sectors are remarkably similar. WāVv facilitates the cross sector acquisition of solutions and services. Coordinating with three critical partners Government, Industry, and Private Sector, securing innovative solutions while supporting research and development continue to ensure the right solution is provided.

Kimberley is the founder and creator of CONVERGX® - a global conference bringing together senior executives in the Energy. Mining and Aerospace, Defence & Security industries. The purpose - to discuss opportunities, technologies, problems, solutions and opportunities that these industries and those that affect and are affected by them have. Most recently, Kimberley's efforts have taken her to NATO and most recently NORAD and USNORTHCOMM. Her work continues beyond her current efforts in a variety of philanthropic endeavours and associations. Kimberley also is a proud Mum of a 5yr old boy.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman who deals with the obstacles, strives for greatness and builds a world . She has Grit. In other words, not ignoring information (good, bad or ugly), but rather taking it in, absorbing it, and still continuing to move ahead.

What it means to be recognized ...
Being a woman of inspiration is an honour that comes with the responsibility of inspiring people to do or create something of significance to them. To help others to overcome obstacles and help them shine to be the best they can be. To help bring new ideas to the table and encourage people to shine even in their darkest hour.

SupportHER's ...
Could not have done this without my husband - Kevin Wong, or my business partner Brad Robson. It takes a village to raise a child. . .it takes a city to raise a woman building a company. We are strong, but stronger with the support of our community.

Karen Stewart

Bumble Bees Venture Capital Inc. and Fairway Divorce Solutions Ltd. - Founder and CEO | B.Sc, MBA, C.Med

Karen Stewart is a serial industry disrupter and entrepreneur. She has over 25 years of experience in founding and building businesses that are disruptive and create significant shareholder value. Her endeavours have included: Financial Broker Dealers in IDA & MFDA, Boutique Brokerage Firms, Real Estate Investment Firms, Insurance Brokerage and Fairway Divorce Solutions, a national Divorce Solutions Company, which has disrupted the traditional Divorce system in Canada. She is also the Founder & CEO of Bumble Bees Venture Capital Inc., a disruptive Venture Capital Company, and she is a past CEO and is on the Board of Directors for Trusted Brand 2016 Inc. (a public company).

She is a best-selling Author of “Clean Break”, a book disrupting the status quo of the divorce system. Karen has made many media appearances discussing the effects of divorce in today’s society. These appearances include The Globe and Mail, ABC Money Matters, Entrepreneur Magazine, PROFIT Magazine, More Magazine, Financial Times, BNN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, CTV, Slice™ and Breakfast Television. Karen is also a featured blogger on Huffington Post Canada and Divorce Magazine. Karen is a sought-after speaker, known for her inspiring and informative presentations. She has spoken at Vancouver’s Annual Wellness Show, Edward School of Business, Victoria Breathe Now Conference and Canadian Institute of Financial Planners. Karen was awarded the Woman of Vision Award in Calgary and PROFIT Magazine’s Top 100 Business Women.

A Woman of Inspiration….
A Woman of Inspiration is a woman who sees no boundaries, who thrives in the divine feminine but tackles the world with a bold and brave attitude. A woman who truly supports other women and understands that the world will be a better place when we have more women leading it. A woman who cherishes others' opinions but who defines herself by an internal locus of control and therefore has the backbone to embrace and grow from life’s lessons.
Karen Stewart | #WOI2018 Nominee

What it means to be recognized ….
Being nominated for Women of Inspiration touches me on so many levels. There are many women (and men) who have achieved financial and business success but have done it by arriving at the peak alone. To me, a woman of inspiration achieves success by inspiring others, therefore impacting both lives and society in a positive way. While I have spent my entire career challenging the status quo and outdated thinking in several industries, I did it because I care about people and our legacy many generations to come, not because I wanted to be recognized. However, to be recognized is a gift that motivates me to move forward and set my dreams and goals for even bigger and more profound change.

Bottom line – without the support of my family, friends and colleagues, I would not have been motivated or had the confidence to take on the number of entrepreneurial disruptive challenges that I have. I understood early in my career that I am who I surround myself with. This discipline opened the door to amazing coaches and mentors that are too many to list. I have been blessed to have people who truly cared about my success and helped me shape my path. They also helped me embrace my personal power and understand the power of intention, vision, and a ruthless desire to be accountable and learn from the past such that I never found myself in a place of being the victim. This is one of their greatest gifts to me.

Michelle Minke

Cowtown Opera Company - Founder and Artistic Director

Pushing the boundaries of classical opera, Calgary Soprano Michelle Minke has made a career out of inspired disruption. Michelle's recent debut album, Expect the Unexpected, confidently merges genres and invites creative collaborations across the musical spectrum and brings Michelle's years of top training and international experience to new audiences. With her boundless vitality and powerful voice, Michelle performed throughout Europe and North America before returning to her home town of Calgary where she was a headliner in the 2013 Grandstand Show and performed with Calgary Opera. As founder and artistic director of Calgary's Cowtown Opera and the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy, Michelle's heartfelt excitement for contributing to the cultural identity of her city has earned her a place among arts champions. Michelle has been named as one of Calgary’s Top 40-Under-40 by Avenue Magazine, was a recipient of the Mayor's Enbridge Emerging Artist Award and was recently named one of Alberta's 25 Inspiring Artists by Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Upcoming performances include high profile private performances across Canada of "Carmen Remix", an operatic collaboration with Hip Hop Artist, James Noble and the release of an operatic children's album, "M.O.M- Minkee's Opera Music, the first Canadian operatic children's album to be released in over 15 years. She is currently a voice coach, adjudicator, and judge throughout the country and teaches young professionals at the Mount Royal University Conservatory. Currently, she is building a new platform coaching speakers, and business professionals on how to make their presentations sing with performance and speaking techniques called MINKEINC and can be heard frequently on CBC as an unconventional panelist.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
In my mind, a woman of inspiration is one who tries to do it all, perhaps some days, not everything well but a woman who strives to be her best self every day. A woman who contributes to her community, her industry, family, relationships and lifts others up in her leadership. A woman who seeks to juggle the many balls in the air as she pursues her passion. A woman that while being a leader, creates other leaders and inspires thought, change and love in her community and city.

What being recognized means to me ...
I am so honoured to be nominated for this fantastic award, and that in itself is an accomplishment and I thank you for your consideration. In all honesty, after striving for so many years to be validated by my industry it has taken a lot of sweat, blood and tears to stand outside the box and validate my art form for myself in a new way, to have outside validation would be such a gift. After much criticism, backlash and even loss of friendships in my industry this will help encourage the movement I continue to make in making my art form relevant to a modern audience, rejuvenating it for new generations and help break the stigma that is so strong in the operatic industry. To receive this honour would be amazing for my professional and personal goals, Setting me a part from the niche industry leaders in the country would bring national attention to the importance of what I am doing and that it does have purpose and is needed. On a personal level, it would mean the world to me as at times, I have sacrificed moments in my personal life to achieve my goals and dreams as well. All those late nights where I couldn't tuck in my baby, the dates with my husband that I have been late for - to be acknowledged that my work and drive for change is valued by my country on this level, would be life changing and a breath of fresh air in the hustle of it all.

SupportHER's ...
I have been honoured to be SO supported by many industry leaders and community partners in helping me build Cowtown Opera from an idea in my parents basement to a national name and Calgary community staple. Chinook School of Music gave me my first job before I went to study professionally and still support me today, Calgary Opera for giving me one of my first breaks in their emerging artist program as well as supporting all my endeavors with Cowtown Opera and sponsoring us in our early days, The Calgary Stampede for making me a headliner in their grandstand show and now a finalist judge for their Stampede Talent Showcase, The University of Toronto for giving me the greatest education available in Canada for both my undergraduate and masters degrees. The Royal Academy of Music in London England for accepting me into their prestigious program which help build the foundations of my European performing career, The Calgary Public Library for commissioning Cowtown Opera to write the first opera about a Calgary story in the history of our country, Annie Davidson, Mount Royal University for being my first stepping stone into performing as a student and now having me as a part of their faculty for the last 10 years.

Sam Bell

Mamaita's Journey ~ Integrative Health Coaching - Integrative Health Coach

Combining my many years as a Registered Nurse and Midwife, I use my experience as a clinical academic and intuitive to deliver a unique holistic approach to health, empowerment coaching and healing to my Clients. As a Reiki Master, an Angel Empowerment Hands on Healing Practitioner and a Higher Priestess Practitioner, I am able to draw from these unique skills to create a personalized approach to my work with clients and patients.
Having recently accepted the position of President of the newly formed Calgary South Chapter of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce, I am building a presence in Calgary to empower holistic practitioners, entrepreneurs and holistic businesses to be recognized for their skills, knowledge and expertise.
I am passionate about empowering women, and as a successful Women's Circle Facilitator, recognize the POWER of women coming together in the right environment. To this end, I have recently launched ‘The Mother Ship Events’ which are designed to provide a safe, nurturing space where participants are empowered to own their feelings and experiences, to take creative risks, and to allow their deepest yearnings to take root and blossom. Our guests gather to support one another, discuss topics close to their hearts, educate and nurture creativity. These are all ways in which we create community, banish isolation, and empower our selves, each other, our partners and of course, our children.
I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to combine my gifts, knowledge and expertise to provide a truly holistic approach toward all in my care and am honoured to have been nominated for a Woman of Inspiration Award!

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman driven by a fire in her heart, an infectious passion, that makes a difference. It may not be a big difference, but rather, a small one, that impacts another person positively but, in its repetition, it amounts to a huge change. And in doing this, that same infectious passion ignites a similar passion in another woman, and another until together we create a tide of change. We are entering a new paradigm. The Divine Feminine is the change this world needs NOW. And one by one, we are each capable of being that Woman of Inspiration and being a part of this beautiful revolution.

What being recognized means to me ...
Women of Inspiration are the women I look to for mentorship, passion and innovation, and there are many. I did not consider myself to be in their shoes. But to find myself here, I am truly grateful to each for proving that we all have the ability to inspire one another and create change, not only for ourselves but for one another, our partners and our future generation. I consider this a pivotal point in my journey, and one that will provide me with the beautiful opportunity to be that mentor who inspires and fires up that passion in other women. I am excited to see where this road leads!

SupportHER ...
I have no family, having been estranged from them for many years, but I do have a 'chosen' family of friends and mentors who have stuck with me through thick and thin. They have allowed me to grow and taught me to accept their support. It has been far from pretty at times, but their non-judgement and nurturing has seen me through. Above all, my son has been my motivation and inspiration to break the cycle of abuse that spanned the generations of our family before him. And my patients and clients, who never fail to motivate me to keep on doing what I do because they show me that every little difference counts.

Vera Goodman

Reading Wings - Visionary

Vera Goodman was a classroom teacher and administrator in Regina, Sundre and Calgary. Her undergraduate degree is from Seattle Pacific University and she holds an M.A. from University of Calgary. A private reading consultant, writer and professional speaker, she presents to organizations, educators and parents internationally.

Vera founded the Calgary Young Writer’s Conference in 1982 which, thirty-six years later, is still being held every spring with 1400 participants this year. She has been honored as a Woman of Vision by Global Television, received the Medallion Award for Outstanding Service from Seattle Pacific University and was chosen as one of the ‘7 over 70’ seniors to be honored in Calgary last October. Vera is author of the bestseller, Simply Read! Helping Others Learn to Read; Simply Write! Personal and Family Writing and Simply Too Much Homework! What Can We Do.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A Woman of Inspiration has an important vision that she is passionate about sharing. She has a wide circle of friends who she supports in their endeavors and who believe in her and contribute to the work she is doing. She shares and receives wisdom from all those she meets.

What being recognized means to me ...
Receiving the Woman of Inspiration award would be a wonderful gift to me. I would view it not so much as honoring me but as a stamp of approval on the work I am doing. It would greatly expand the circle of people who know about the vision I have for spreading happiness in the world through changing the way we deliver education.

SupportHER's ...
A huge network of people in Calgary and in other parts of the world know about me and will promote my work to their huge databases of contacts. Everyone I meet is interested in supporting the projects I am creating. I have two volunteers who have given me hundreds of hours to put my course on line and market it.

Kimberley Jev

Rozsa Foundation - Communications Coordinator

Kimberley Jev is a multifaceted communications professional who has proven herself to be an authoritative voice in the world of mass communications. Her entrepreneurial skills and ability to think creatively with unique strategies show her determination to prove there are a myriad of uses for a Journalism degree. She graduated with Honours from the Applied Communications degree program at Mount Royal University in 2011. In 2007, while enrolled as a full-time student, Kimberley launched the fashion media company, Calgary Fashion Media which saw her in position as a digital publisher developing and distributing arts, entertainment, fashion, and lifestyle content.

Kimberley is known for building and expanding networks as well as motivating correspondents and journalists around the world. While also in university, she worked as the Communications Coordinator for the Afrikadey! Festival and Presentation Society. In 2013, Kimberley won the People’s Choice award for Media Personality of the Year at the Black Gold Awards, now the Obsidian Awards. Kimberley has an extensive portfolio and has held positions with established organizations and businesses such as the Legal Education Society of Alberta and Brooklyn based photography studio Alakija Studios, she is currently the Communications Coordinator for The Rozsa Foundation.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration is someone who dares to dream and see it through. She is guided by a bigger purpose, a higher self, she doesn't even know she is changing the world through her steps and visions at times and yet somehow she manages to effect change for the greater good. A woman of inspiration is a butterfly flapping its wings in the jungle that subsequently causes a storm on the other side of the world.

What it means to be recognized ...
Being recognized as a woman of inspiration means the struggles are worth it. It's worth it to keep loving the way I do, breathing and working through things. It's worth it to keep working to achieve my goals. This means it is worth it to keep reaching out and sharing with my community. It means the work I do, the words I say mean something to someone, it means they gather strength, support or encouragement and that is the main goal. I don't care about the status, I care that other women and young girls are looking to me and seeing this inspiration even. I may not get it right all the time and life has it's ups and downs and i'm just open about this. The energy comes from being equally inspired by the women around me. It means I am reflecting the women in my life correctly.

The women in my family are the number one contributors to my success, my mother, my sister, aunts, and cousins have been instrumental in a lot of the things I have set out to do. It's really heartwarming to know there is a backbone of very strong and independent women who are all successful in their personal and professional lives behind me to support me with advice and mentorship. In business, I have received unsurmountable support from women who are trailblazers in their industries. I owe a great deal to coworkers and team members in the various projects I work on as well as in the workplace. I have also been fortunate to have friends who have stepped in when I have been in need. I am forever thankful.

Shannon Collins

Chair Flair Inc & Event Core - CEO/President

I worked as the Director of Communications and Marketing for a popular private golf course for 13 years. During my time working full time at the club I started my first company in 2006, Chair Flair (http://chairflair.ca). I am proud to say I started this company without incurring any debt and it has operated since in the black. It wasn't until I had my second daughter that I retired from the club and pursued Chair Flair full time. I have grown Chair Flair from a small business out of my basement doing 20-30 weddings a year, to now having 6 full time employees and over 20 seasonal workers and we do over 500 weddings a year! In September of 2016 I started my second company, Event Core. I am the majority owner and share the company with my 2 partners. Our philosophy is "power through partnerships". Or mission is to create a community of partnerships that is beneficial to both event vendors and as well our clients, those planning events. We believe we are changing the event industry through positive collaboration and working together instead of against one another. We have seen enormous success and have over 50 members within the first 6 months.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A "Woman of Inspiration" is someone who everyday, in all areas of life, provides an excellent example to girls and women around them. It is someone who leads by example and is a role model and a mentor to those around her. This means helping to instill in these girls and young women a sense of confidence, self esteem, and health in body, mind and spirit. This is a woman who, in their work and play, provides a positive example, challenging negative gender stereotypes and helping to empower girls and young women. How? By "walking the walk" and providing positive, healthy examples they can follow. It is a woman who cares about her community and strives to find ways to give back where she can and not look for recognition in return. The women who inspire me most are the ones who give without even thinking about it. They are pillars of our community and it is through their strong moral foundation, their generosity, and consistent commitment to challenging themselves and those around them that makes them women I look up to and aspire to be in my daily life.

What being recognized means to me ...
I am truly honored to be nominated as a woman of inspiration, not once but twice now. I am very grateful for this recognition and I take it very seriously as I believe it is a responsibility for all nominees to affect change in their community, to uphold a high level of values and ethics in their every day life; as well as to influence and inspire those around us to reach for their dreams. I have always believed that success is founded in working hard and always striving to challenge yourself. This helped me develop a strong sense of confidence and self, which I try to encourage in my own two beautiful daughters. Responsibility is something I take seriously especially since I have my daughters and other women within my "path" who look up to me and my actions every day. My daughters represent the next generation of inspirational women. I realize that everything I do, every day of my life, impacts the way in which they approach the world. It impacts their attitudes, and how they develop in these often confusing times. I am constantly aware of my behavior, not just at home, but also when I am at work. I have a staff of approximately 20 young women. How I approach work, as their leader, greatly impacts their impression of the business world. I could just be an employer, but I recognize that I have the ability to be a role model and a mentor to all these girls, which goes beyond just being their boss.

Being a "woman of inspiration" means many things but most of all I feel grateful and of course honored for being nominated. I wouldn't be the woman I am today without the foundation that my parents provided me with. Hand-in-hand with that is a deep sense of responsibility for being a role model for future generations of women and girls who are beginning their journey into womanhood. I believe that it is incumbent upon us, as parents, mentors, and future leaders, to provide positive mentoring and role modeling. It couldn't be more important.....after all, these girls and women are the upcoming decision makers of our world upon which our future depends on.

SupportHER's ...
I am VERY grateful to be surrounded by so many people who support and encourage me every day. From my parents who are always there when I need them, to my children who I know are always looking up to me and watching my every move. They are my biggest supporters and knowing I am paving a legacy for them keeps me motivated to continue to grow and do my best every day. My partners in my second company Event Core who keep me sane and remind me what is important. They are there to lend their help and support every day but especially on the hard days when I need to be reminded of how far I have come and all that I have accomplished. My staff who make everything possible!! Without their hard work and support my companies would never have grown to be as successful as they are today. These are the ladies who truly deserve the credit for all their hard work because I could not do it without them! To all my friends and family who love me on my bad days and who are proud of all my accomplishments even the small ones.

Cindy Luffer

iPhix - President/CEO

Cindy Luffer was a believer in STEM before it was an acronym! It wasn’t a field she sought out to break into as a female; it was just what she wanted to be. Big city girl with big city dreams of becoming an engineer was accomplished with honours and respect. From Montreal, she was educated with a bachelor’s in science in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University and holds professional engineering designations in the state of Maine, and provinces of Quebec and Alberta. Cindy has many years of pulp & paper and oil & gas experience before moving to Calgary. When she broke her personal phone, while on maternity leave with her third child, necessity brought opportunity and a unique business for its time was born. iPhix Inc. established in 2009 is Calgary's foremost out-of-warranty consumer handheld device repair centre. iPhix employs 15 people operating out of iPhix Eau Claire Market, iPhix TD Core, iPhix Avenida, iPhix Sage Hill and the Calgary iPhix Mobile Kiosk Unit. Now a single Mom of four kids and four + stores, her visions are not only on opening more stores but also on growing her corporate program partners and the pre-owned mobile device unit.

A Woman of Inspiration to me is .....
A women who will bring up others around her. She will not hide her struggles, as it makes her human. Being inspiring means helping her family and friends even when she is not asked. She will make ALL feel welcomed and uplifted just by being near. She may be an ear or source of comfort, but she will not want to change anyone or give unwanted advice. She will inspire by example.

On Being Recognized ...
Being nominated as a woman of inspiration means the world to me. I would like to inspire not only other moms and women, but also men and boys alike. Starting your own business in any field can be daunting but starting your own business as a woman in a tech field may feel impossible without an inspirational example. As a working Mom, I don’t always find the time to stop and see what or if anything I can accomplish in a day is affecting the people around me. This nomination validates that for me. If I can inspire another female to give some of the male dominated fields a try, it’ll make a more equal footing by the time my daughter, and eventually her daughters want to live any dreams they have without as many obstacles. This recognition makes waking up and doing it again, worth it.

Katrina Petryshyn

The Maker's Keep - Owner

Katrina Petryshyn started making costume jewellery fifteen years ago. Interest in her pieces motivated her to eventually start her home based business " Katreenah Jewelry." At that time, the only avenues available to sell her pieces were at markets and out of her home. Setting up "shop" every weekend was exhausting yet necessary as she was determined to keep her business running.
Years later, while living in South Africa, Katrina Petryshyn came across a co-op store in Cape Town that sparked an ambition to own her own store.
After moving back to Edmonton and having her first son, Katrina decided it was time to focus on her business passions. With the help of her amazing husband Dave and her family and friends support, "The Makers Keep" was born.
With an undeniable passion for handmade goods and small businesses, Katrina’s goal was that "The Makers Keep" would provide local makers, a place to display products in a market like environment. As their cheerleader and ambassador, Katrina would sell their work for them while providing the brands an opportunity to reach a different demographic. Soon after a successful grand opening of the first store, Katrina was pregnant with baby #2! Working hands on during her pregnancy was a must and in a short period of time, the business grew substantially. After being open for only 8 months, Katrina had the opportunity to set up a 3-month "pop up" in Kingsway Mall. The opening of the "pop up " was only 3 weeks before her due date but she knew it was a huge opportunity and in the last weeks of her pregnancy, set up her second location! The "pop up" was so successful, the administration offered her a brand new space in the mall's amazing expansion! Again, with a 3 month old on her hip, Katrina moved the store and opened "The Makers Keep" Kingsway location in November 2017.
Fast forward...June 1, 2018 Katrina added one more store. In one year and nine months, Katrina has three amazing locations, fully staffed, selling hundreds of local brands products....all while raising her two sons and creating pieces for her own jewellery company!

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
I definitely would define a Woman of Inspiration as a woman who leads by example whereby empowering others to work toward their full potential. A woman of inspiration has the enthusiasm for working with others in business and are passionate about collaboration. A problem solver with a positive attitude willing to share her experiences, both triumphs and failures. The best way to grow and prosper is to learn from our mistakes, celebrate all successes (even the small ones) and to always keep moving forward! Inspirational woman do this without fault.

What it means to be nominated ...
This nomination is an amazing honor for me. I have worked very hard in a short period of time to build something I am extremely proud of. Along my journey, I have met many incredible people that have taught me ways to strengthen my business skills, and for that I am grateful. My goal; the true driving force, is to continue to provide the best opportunities for local vendors to enhance and expand their brands. I don’t do what I do for the acknowledgment but being recognized sure feels good and certainly motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing. It is validation that my aspirations, time and energy is producing something special. I have many women in my life that inspire me daily and believing that I too am one of those women inspiring others is a powerful feeling! One that I have never really felt before.

SupportHER's ...
When I first started "The Makers Keep" my mantra was (and still is) "collaboration over competition”. I am a huge advocate of working together and building a community. In the early stages of this business, I received endless support from vendors I knew from markets and guidance from many women in my life. Marissa Loewen was one of these women. Her guidance in the early stages of my business was a game changer. She was an open book, all while opening a store of the same concept just blocks away! Instead of competing with me and not willing to share the knowledge that she had, she opened up and embraced my ideas. We ended up opening our stores only months apart and worked together to build up our customer base and vendor list.
More recently, I have networked with several other "shop local" based store owners who together we have created an alliance whereby we share ideas and promote each other's businesses.
Lastly, I would not be celebrating the successes that I am without the loving and continuous help and support of my family and friends.

Tessa Lerbekmo-Joyes

StandOUT Publications - CEO/Founder

Tessa Lerbekmo-Joyes is a deaf mother of two young daughters, a loyal wife, a natural comedian, and an inspiring CEO of a publication and creative services company, StandOUT Publications. Watch her and be encouraged as she builds her empire by documenting everything from struggles to success through blogs, docu-series, magazine, design work, social media, and many more.
A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
The definition of a woman of inspiration in my own words is a woman who inspires others, helps others, leads others but knows how to take of herself, her family and her passion/business.

What being recognized means to me ...
It means I am able to take a leap and put myself out there to show others about what I am doing and WHY I am doing it. I can show the world that I had a dream since I was 13 years old and that I can bring it to life and make a living. Being recognized as a woman of inspiration also means that my hard work is being paid off, my dreams are coming true and I am able to do what I love and helping people around the world by sharing their story or bringing their idea to life. There are many ways a woman of inspiration can be but it comes down to how her self development and self love motivates others to life a better life.

SupportHER's ...
The support on social media and in person has been tremendously helpful, motivating and inspiring. It makes me want to work harder to move mountains with everyone else.

Maria Martiniello

Calgary Zoo - Business Development Manager

An innovative result oriented, customer focused professional with years of experience in a variety of fast paced non-profit, oil & gas, health, technology and beverage sectors including television advertising. An effective leader, trainer, mentor, communicator, who builds and guides high performance teams. As a pragmatic problem solver, whose sound business, sales and marketing know-how have continually helped to enhance organizations bottom line. Functional areas include; sales effectiveness, strategic business plans, people development, coaching, performance management, client liaison and sales proposal preparation.

Currently, a driving force behind generating new sales leads and contacts at the Calgary Zoo. Maria’s leadership position is responsible for all sales activities necessary to build the Calgary Zoo’s year-round event business. Her role identifies and develops new development opportunities that allow the zoo to expand its event customer base locally, regionally and nationally. In 2017 Maria was awarded a year scholarship with Sandler Training renown as the largest provider of sales, leadership and customer service training in the world. Sandler has recognized Maria’s excellence by awarding her a highly coveted trip to the annual Sandler Summit in Orlando in March 2018. The summit hosts over a thousand of the world’s top sales, leadership, and management professionals who gather to network, share ideas, celebrate each other’s successes and participate in sessions led by top Sandler training professionals and presentations from top trainers from around the world. Recipient of the Meeting Professional International Excellence Award in 2018. This award was given to a member of MPI that is a role model and innovator in the events community.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
My definition of women of inspiration is those who inspire themselves and others to persevere. Regardless if you are a women or man you need to identify what is important to you and create your own path and define what success is to you. Along the way you also need to inspire those around to you to be their best selves. You lead by example and people will follow. Women of Inspiration empower women young and old. Sometimes our mentors become our mentees. We all need to remember where we came from and those who helped us along the way.

What being recognized means to me....
Being recognized as a ‘’women of inspiration’ means that someone recognized that I have made a difference in someone else’s life. I have always strived to motivate others to be their authentic and successful selves (as have I). Knowing that I have influenced people to move forward and recognize all that they can accomplish means the world to me. It means that I have a voice and women can follow me in a positive and inspirational way.

I have been blessed with an abundance of support throughout my lifetime. Earlier in my career I had a women leader that I reported to that said some important words to me. I looked to her for guidance to grow into a position that I wanted and had not yet seen women in that role. I asked her for help and she said “Maria, I support you 100% but you need to do the work. Take your career in your hands and present to the GM why you deserve and prepared yourself for that role. I can do it for you but you need to reach out and ask for what you want”. I was promoted to the role and remind others of that pivotal time in my career. Work hard, ask for help and take your success path into your own hands. This wonderful woman is still in my life and I now pass that advice on to other women in my circle of influence.

Connie Jakab

Movement with a Message - Co-Founder/Artistic Director

Connie Jakab is passionate about rebelling against status quo living and encouraging others to branch out. She is the author of "Culture Rebel, Because The World Has Enough Desperate Housewives", and "When The Dead Live". Connie is the creator of The Courage Program as the owner of Movement With A Message, where she seeks to bring change to mental health issues in our society. She has just launched, "National Hope Talks" where she will be presenting her plan to bring change to mental health issues to school assemblies, workplace wellness workshops, and mental health conferences. She is also one of the owners of Village where she is creating strong village for caregivers, teachers and children. She has produced five theatre shows based on social issues such as poverty, women’s vulnerabilities, youth resiliency, family breakdown, mental health, and addiction. Connie drives her passion outward into the arms of those wanting something more radical and meaningful in life. She is an active speaker and lives with her husband and two boys in Calgary, Alberta Canada.

A Woman of Inspiration to me is ...
A woman of inspiration is one who sees opportunity instead of opposition. She knows what is in her hand to serve and bring change instead of setting for what is. She is a creator of culture and beauty around her and brings others with her for the ride.

What being recognized means to me ...
It is a great honour for someone to consider me a woman of inspiration. It means that everything I'm fighting for regarding mental health issues is being noticed, which means momentum is being created. It reminds me that every small step we take matters. Every day we choose to show up matters. The small things matter. It means normal people like you and I can make huge ripples in our world.

SupportHER's ...
I have always had mentors since I was a youth who saw potential in me. To this day, I still have mentors who continue to pour into my life and remind me that what I do matters. It reminds me to do the same for those coming up behind me. I also have a supportive husband and friends who cheer me on. For that I am very grateful.

Tara Wilson

Income Access (A Paysafe Company) - General Manager

Tara Wilson has almost two decades’ experience in the tech sphere and over 15 years’ expertise in operational leadership within the payments and marketing sectors. Her management experience spans account management, call centres, customer service, finance, integrations, onboarding, project management, product, training and technical support. Tara moved from Paysafe Group to their marketing technology and services provider, Income Access, in October 2017. Her current position caps an already diverse career managing a comprehensive range of business areas at Paysafe and at other payments and tech companies. Overseeing all aspects of Income Access and its overall evolution, Tara’s wide-ranging operational role of General Manager focuses on streamlining the operations and processes of internal departments – from software development, QA and account management teams to marketing and business development units – as well as growing the company’s global client-base. She is dedicated to consolidating Income Access’ position as the gaming industry’s leading affiliate marketing solutions provider and expanding the company into new verticals and markets. Prior to Income Access, Tara joined Paysafe Group in July 2015 and oversaw all operation functions as Vice President of Operations – Payment Processing (Canada and UK) while overseeing Account Management for VIP clients. Before that, she managed several departments at Pivotal Payments.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
It can be intimidating being the only woman in a room where everyone disagrees with you about the right path forward, as I have been. A woman of inspiration is a disruptor – someone who goes against the grain or the popular choice and is willing to be brave and not afraid to take on the work in order to share her true thoughts and pursue her goals regardless of who else is in the room.

What being recognized mean to me ...
It feels almost surreal to be recognized for this honour. It means the world to me that people within my organization feel that I am someone to look up to and respect, and that I have been able to give back to and inspire other women who are progressing through their careers. It is truly heartwarming. I do not take this recognition lightly. In fact, I consider it to be a great responsibility to continue to live up to the standard of a woman of inspiration, and I feel driven to work even harder. Receiving recognition for my work is just a bonus on top of the knowledge that what I have been doing has made a difference to people.

SupportHER's ...
I am lucky to have had my journey supported by many people in both my professional and personal lives. I have an amazing family with an incredible work ethic. My father lost his own father at a very young age and had to step-in to take care of his family, and my mother moves through life with a level of grace and perseverance that inspires me. My fiancé is wonderful and has brought a lot of love and support into my life as well.

Throughout my career, I have received guidance from some fantastic mentors, as well as some very challenging leaders who provided compelling examples of what not to do. I have the support of the UK-based executive coach Susie Gorman, who is also a woman, provided by my employer Paysafe Group. I feel so grateful to work for a company that promotes diversity, inclusion and women in business.

Dr. Karen MacNeill

MacNeill Performance Consulting, Copeman Healthcare - High Performance Psychologist | MacNeill Performance Consultanting

Dr. Karen MacNeill has the unique experience of having both competed and consulted on the World Stage.  She is a registered psychologist and performance consultant with over 18 years of experience She has worked with athletes competing at the last 4 Olympic Winter Games, and competed herself at the international level for over a decade.  Most recently, she was the Lead Mental Health Counsellor for the Canadian Olympic Committee and Mental Performance Consultant for Ski Cross Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.  As part of the day to day routine, Karen thrives having a broad scope of practice.  She has fulfilled contracts with Canadian Olympic Committee, several National Sport Organizations, Compete to Create and multiple fortune 500 companies to name a few. More recently, Karen has become a partner and Chief Product Officer with a digital health media company, Headversity, which offers innovative education through a blended learning program (on-site and on-line) to help people to build mental resilience and thrive. Karen also contributes to her professional community, having acted as the chairperson for Sport Psych Alberta, the Managing Council for Canadian Sport Psychology Associations, and a trustee for the Canadian Athletic Foundation. Karen’s career achievements and volunteer efforts have been publicly recognized as she was a recipient of the Avenue Top 40 under 40 Award.  Her passion and drive for helping others be their best also translates into her life as a mother, wife, and outdoor enthusiast.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration is one who models courage, determination and drive towards lofting aspiration, making an impact on the world around her. She is a woman who moves others to live with purpose, step into the unknown and stand for what they believe in. She is a woman who seems to naturally find a way to make a difference to those around them by just doing what they do best.

What it means to be recognized ...
It is an honor to be recognized as a women of inspiration. Part of my “why” is to be a difference maker. Whether it is contributing to the success of an Olympic athlete, coaching an executive to lead with purpose and thrive more consistently, or helping a school girl from Kenya be mentally prepared for a final exam that will determine her pathway in life. I get energized and fulfilled when I feel I have had an impact and made a difference in the life of another. The thought that I could be a source of inspiration to other women motivating them to reach higher or live their passion is humbling, yet also helps to reinforce my ‘why’ and fuels the commitment to the work I love to do.

SupportHER ...
First and foremost, my parents have been instrumental in my growth, development and success. They offered the freedom for me to drive towards my goals, but also the support needed to succeed. They have been my compass, but have allowed me to draw my own map.

I have also had a ‘tribe of mentors’ that have taken many shape and forms, whether it be an a graduate supervisor (Dr. Cal Botterill) a coach (Dr. Dru Marshall), an interested business executive who would meet with me about my consulting business every few months (Barry Giovanetto), or multiple friends and family (you know who you are)… I have had people in life that just got me and could see what was possible for me- especially when I could not. The lessons, encouragement and undying support has allowed me to take on challenges I did not think were possible.

Lastly, my husband and daughter- they keep me grounded in who I am and what is most important… and offer unconditional support.

Yvonne Silver, CEC, CPHR, RP

We Flourish - Coach, Author, Mentor & Entrepreneur

Passionate about teaching women to Flourish in business - by elevating their confidence, developing a juicy vision - to have a massive ripple effect. She does this by supporting female visionaries who are leading women’s organizations, speaking, chairing group Mentorship programs, plus 1:1 and group coaching. She believes that where Possibility, Purpose and Consciousness meet – WE FLOURISH!

A Woman of Inspiration to me is ...
A woman who is clear in her purpose, and living her mission proudly. She empowers others simply by being who she is and sharing her gifts. She is smart, savvy, courageous, generous and intuitive. She encourages others to step into their maximum potential through simply being a role model of what is possible, and lives her life with impact. Inspiring women share their wisdom, their connections, and recognize that women's brilliance is amplified when we band together with a strong vision, common values, strength and commitment. She embraces her life's lessons with grace and insight, to light the way for others.

What being recognized means to me...
I have been supporting other women for a long time... I was deeply touched by the original nomination from one of my past protégés, who has blossomed richly through our Mentorship. Upon approaching several women for letters of support I was blown away with some of their comments describing me as purposeful, captivating, having a profound effect on young women, a strong advocate, and a compelling speaker. I am honored to be so respected by my program participants, protégés, clients, professional colleagues and leaders in the community. This recognition and the release of my upcoming book will further expand my work this year by helping women elevate their confidence, especially using powerful words and having more confident conversations.

SupportHER's ...
My husband John, who keeps the home fires burning, and my son Alex who keeps the love flowing with his generous heart. I give credit to my Coaches, mentors, guides, professional colleagues and the numerous training programs I completed with some of the worlds most transformational leaders, including T. Harv Eker, Jack Canfield, Jayne Warrilow, Teresa de Grosbois and the Evolutionary Business Council members, my energy healers and teachers Rita Bozi and Dixie Bennett. Very importantly, women's group camaraderie with Canadian Business Chicks, WINGS of Inspired Business and BPW members, and of course my amazing clients.

Dr. Laura Hambley

Calgary Career Counselling, Canada Career Counselling, Work EvOHlution, Leadership Success Group, Synthesis Psychology - Founder, President, Ph.D., Author, Registered Psychologist

Dr. Laura is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, mother of three, and serial entrepreneur based in Calgary, Alberta, who is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. She is a sought-after thought leader on Workplace Psychology and Career Development in Canada, and is regularly interviewed by the media on these topics. Laura’s newest venture, Work EvOHlution, creates innovative assessment and developmental supports for distributed employees, leaders and teams. Work EvOHlution was recognized as one of the 50 most innovative new organizations in Alberta (2014) and profiled in Scientific American magazine. Dr. Laura also founded Calgary and Canada Career Counselling, a team of Registered Psychologists helping thousands of Canadian students and adults of all ages and life stages. Laura also runs the Leadership Success Group, a team of Industrial/Organizational Psychologists helping leaders, teams and cultures grow and thrive; and Synthesis Psychology, a personal counselling and wellness practice based in Calgary.

In addition to her companies, Laura writes psychological thrillers, which are currently being considered for a movie deal. She also co-chairs, along with her husband Scott, the Canadian Energy Executive Association, which is in its 68th year. She is passionate about changing perceptions towards our invaluable energy industry in Canada.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration is someone who empowers others to reach their full potential. They lead, mentor, innovate and problem solve, working every day with integrity, courage and a desire to continuously learn and develop. They are never finished learning, are authentic and vulnerable, willing to admit and learn from mistakes. They love making a difference.

What being recognized means to me ...
It is a true honour to be nominated as a woman of inspiration. I am proud to make a difference in the community, both in Calgary and more widely in Canada and globally. The term “woman of inspiration” is exciting to me and I am honoured to be associated with the Canadian Business Chicks. One of my greatest joys continues to be mentoring and leading other women, and Canadian Business Chicks fits well with these values. I’ve enjoyed mentoring through the Boss Chicks program over the past ten months and am inspired by the way this organization continues to make a difference for women.

SupportHER's ...
My number one support is my husband of nearly 20 years, Scott Lovett. He has supported me through completing three degrees and continues to encourage me in my business ventures, and stands beside me as an equal parent in raising our three children.

I’ve also had amazing mentors, including my Ph.D. program supervisor, Dr. Theresa Kline, who is a brilliant leader and mother of two successful daughters. Another key mentor is my business coach, Elaine Maxwell, who has been with me as I’ve weathered the recession, expanded my practice in a new province, and navigated some tough people-related decisions in my businesses.

Other key supports are my two business partners, Dr. Tom O’Neill of Work EvOHlution, who started out as my research assistant and continued to become a highly respected professor, and now supports the growth of our challenging but exciting company. And Meghan Reid, my partner of Canada Career Counselling, who is across the country but continues to be a supportive presence on a daily basis.

Marsha-Laine Dungog

Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP - Director, US Tax Law

Marsha is a Director at Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP providing international tax planning, tax compliance and controversy services for multinational businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, high net worth individuals and U.S. citizens living abroad. She is admitted to practice in California, Michigan, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. She is also a public arbitrator for the United States Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and instructor for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This June 2018, Marsha was admitted as a Student-at-law with the Alberta Law Society.

Prior to joining Moodys Gartner, Marsha held leadership positions in boutique firms in Los Angeles and was tax counsel for The Dow Chemical Company. She also served as law clerk to Hon. Senior Judge Lawrence A. Wright of the United States Court and judicial extern to Hon. Judge Dennis J. Montali of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. She worked as Senior Tax Specialist at KPMG LLP's National Tax Office in Washington D.C. and as an Associate Tax Attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop LLP in San Francisco.

Marsha received her L.L.M. in Taxation, with distinction, from Georgetown University Law Center, her J.D., with honors, from Golden Gate University School of Law with a Certificate of Specialization in International Law, and her B.A. Honors in Political Science, cum laude, from University of the Philippines. She was a Research Editor for the Golden Gate University Law Review and Golden Gate University International Law Review and a fellow at the Committee on State Taxation (COST) in Washington, D.C.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
She is a woman who aspires to be more than the sum of all her talents, abilities and skills. She lives life as fully, bravely and truthfully as she can. She undertakes risks to become the best version of herself that she can share with the world. She understands her purpose and she is grateful for opportunities to fulfill it. She gives of herself generously to others and values the unique blessings or lessons they bring in her life. She always stands up for what she believes is right. She has resilient faith and hope in all that is good, pure and true. And did I mention she never gives up?

What being recognized means to me ...
Being recognized as a woman who inspires others means that my journey thus far, i.e., all the years of effort and conscious intent to overcome and rise above the limitations and stereotypes that our society places on women, is valued and makes a difference. It means that the movement to help women educate and empower themselves has become all-inclusive and diverse.

SupportHER's ...
My story is filled with strong independent women who shaped me to become the woman I am today. They gave me my hardest lessons so that I became resilient and assertive. But the first and most influential of them all was my mother, who believed that her daughters could achieve more than the best education that a third world country could offer. She sacrificed her life to lay the foundations for her daughters, and it is her memory that fuels the fire in me to keep pressing forward and never settle for a life that is less than what she endeavored us to achieve for ourselves.

Daphne Simkin

YEG Box - Owner

Daphne and Lana are the most genuine, fun people! They created their business from scratch after their family and friends were always asking them where they got their gifts. YEG Box was really created out of their passion for supporting local small businesses. They fill their box with goodies and notes from multiple makers each month, and ship them across the country for Edmontonians and others to enjoy. They love working with new makers each month, and are really passionate about the fact that local goods are even better than what you can get at the big box stores. They have created a way for someone to support multiple small businesses at the same time, while getting a fun surprise in the mail every month. They also do great themed boxes, including the “Loved” box which supports the Canadian Women’s Foundation. It’s so amazing to see what these two ladies are doing for their families and many other families too!

Rena Tabata

Think Tank Innovations Ltd. - Co-founder & CEO

Rena is disrupting how healthcare professionals around the world collaborate on patient care and how they safeguard patient privacy. 89% of doctors and 100% of student doctors utilize unsecure apps on mobile devices to collaborate on patient cases using clinical photos and chat. Unfortunately, this occurs at a 25% privacy breach rate. Until ShareSmart, a secure clinical photography and messaging app that Rena and her co-founders launched in 2016, the authorized methods to share clinical photographs and clinical notes included outdated fax technology or cumbersome electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Limitations to access and mobility forced well-meaning healthcare professionals to use unsecure apps but this has resulted in many health information privacy breaches in Canada and around the world. Using her background in medical ethics and education, she advocates for digital professionalism among healthcare professionals, working tirelessly with regulators, medical associations, hospitals, academic centers and patient advocacy groups. In the short time since launch of ShareSmart, she's grown the network to over 23,000 healthcare professionals to proactively secure patient privacy and enhance patient care. She along with her co-founders have also contributed to the publication of Canada's first national guideline on mobile technology appropriate for medicine. Today, this seminal document is being referenced and used as a benchmarking tool for health technologies around the world.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration to me (is a person who identifies as female, etc. as the current lexicon suggests) and motivates others through her unique ingenuity or innovation in an impactful way. I think everyone has the capacity to inspire those around them, in small and simple ways, but the ones that ought to be celebrated are the leaders that disrupt the most pressing issues in society, unbridled by boundaries, including, but not limited to those institutional, political and religious in nature, and challenge others to build a legacy of positive change.

What being recognized means to me ...
Recognition as a Woman of Inspiration would be a motivating honour to help me continue on this journey to affect positive change in healthcare digital professionalism and patient privacy, at this critical point where technology is outpacing legislation, dialogue and practice in safeguarding sensitive clinical information. This award will signal to legislators, regulators, medical associations and hospital executives that they must pay attention to patient privacy and take proactive measures to elevate the literacy around health information privacy among healthcare professionals and arm them with the tools to succeed in safeguarding patient privacy.

SupportHER's ...
It takes a village to affect change in healthcare and run a software development company. We have benefited greatly from organizations, strategic partners and individuals from across Canada and around the world. The most instrumental have been in our very backyard of Calgary. Organizations such as Startup Calgary, the A100, SELS-SFO and Innovate Calgary have given tirelessly in lifting us up to receive international exposure, mentorship and guidance. Industry partners such as Apple and the Canadian Medical Association, with shared values around a future of enhanced patient safety and better tools for medicine, have helped immensely in our efforts to move the dial for health information privacy and technical innovation.

Jody Carrington

Dr. Jody Carrington Psychologists - Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Jody Carrington is a Clinical Psychologist who has spent the past fifteen years talking about connection and relationships. She is a wife and mother, and Chief Happiness Officer of Carrington & Company, where she manages her private practice, mentors associates, is a speaker, an author, and has created a model of support for people who do some of the holiest work on this planet: our educators. Carrington & Company was born throughout her work with kids and families. Jody has assessed and treated over 1000 kids in our country, and she has never, not one time, met a bad kid. What she has learned, however, is that the kids are only ok if those of us holding them are ok. Jody’s message is for parents, educators, police officers, and anyone who holds people in times of hard things, because we are wired to do hard things. We can do hard things much easier when we remember this: we remember we are wired for connection.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
I have three. These are the women who I aspire to be. I keep them in my head always. I speak to them. I write to them. I parent for them. I conduct myself in my marriage to make them proud. Two of them I’ve never met. And they haven’t let me down yet: My momma: nurturing, kind, resilient, quietly strong, held pain to protect others, fierce.
Dr. Brene Brown: intelligent, business guru, balancer of marriage, family, passion, success, and light. Incredibly boundaries and incredibly generous. Ellen DeGeneres: kind, giving, reminds me to honour the adversity that so many face, friggen hilarious My goal: to leave a legacy of these three combined. And most importantly, my hope to raise my children to live in a world where there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.

What being recognized means to me ...
Ahhhhh. Words are hard to find when it comes to this question. It’s a feeling. Of immense gratitude. The coolest part about life that I’ve learned recently is that a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. I’ve been surrounded by many miracles. And I couldn’t be more grateful. More honoured. And more inspired to give back - to my kids, my community, to this country, and to our world. This recognition by the Canadian Business Chicks has fueled the passion and (sometimes wavering) belief I have that maybe, just maybe, I am a leader, a game changer, and that together we can change the world.

SupportHER's ...
I have the most incredible mom on the planet. It wasn’t until I was 36 years old that I realized just how incredible she was. While I was pregnant with our first baby, she and my father told me that they gave up their first daughter for adoption 40 years prior, and they had not told a soul until the moment they were telling us. See, I think of her often, my mom. What it must have been like to hold your child for 30 minutes, and never see them again. Then, five years later, hold another baby girl, fathered by the same man (now your husband), and not talk to anyone, (including the father), about how I looked just like her first baby girl. My mom is fierce. And kind. Resilient and strong. She is my roots. Unshakable and full of conviction. Then there was my grade 10 teacher. She made me feel what it was like to believe it was all going to be ok – even in light of hard things. And then there was my graduate advisor. For six years she led me through a masters and a PhD. It was the first time I understood what a feminist was. She was a fighter. A ground breaker. She never made it easy on me. But I always knew she believed in me. And then the mentor at the Children’s Hospital, Paul, my saviour and biggest fan. He is in my heart every single day. And then there was the woman who came up to me before I talk I was to give in front of senior education leaders. They were worried I was going to swear too much or make jokes that wouldn’t fly. She grabbed my hand before I went on stage and said, “I heard you talk three months ago. It was the first time since the death of my husband and my 10-month-old baby girl that I felt hope. It was your swearing, your realness, that made me believe again. Don’t play to the haters”. That women – she changed my life.
No body is more important than my husband, my kids, my parents, my siblings. And those people. They are all my “why”.

Jessica Tsang - Women of Inspiration

Jessica Tsang

Direct Health Solutions - Founder and Director

Jessica is a family nurse practitioner on a mission to improve the quality of health care and increase access to health care. After spending years working in ICU and urgent care, she felt exasperated seeing health complications that could have been prevented by early screening and treatment. She started asking her patients why… and they told her that they struggled getting to the clinic for various reasons. For many, leaving the home is simply not feasible due to physical and/or psychological challenges. It is proven that a lack of primary health care leads to a poor quality of health, a poor quality of life, and even early death. Jessica removes the barrier of going to the clinic by bringing medical and laboratory services to people in their homes. The provision of medical house calls are proven to help seniors maintain their independence, support individuals and families to optimize their health, improve end-of-life care for palliative patients in their homes, and divert unnecessary 911 calls and visits to the emergency department. When she is not making house calls, Jessica is shaping the minds of future nurses as a faculty member of Mount Royal University School of Nursing & Midwifery.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration is a leader in the community who takes action to achieve a better tomorrow. Fuelled with optimism, courage, and determination, she makes lasting contributions to solve significant world problems. Her charisma motivates and inspires others to engage in her vision, challenge their own boundaries, and accomplish amazing things. People of inspiration give us hope when we are faced with adversity and shines some light when we feel surrounded by darkness.

What being recognized means to me ...
Throughout my life, I’ve been inspired by people who overcome significant adversity and manage to push through to live another day. I have always looked up to women, such as Maria Montessori, Helen Bamber, and Mother Teresa, who challenged societal norms to advocate for vulnerable populations. By studying their ambitions and initiatives, I was inspired to find my own passion and pursue my own mission to change the world. It is a great honour to be nominated as a woman of inspiration because it means that my work is meaningful and is positively impacting in my community. I can only imagine that someday, my influence will spread and that my story can empower others to discover their own passions and life purposes. A life without purpose is like a kite without wind - flat, unstimulating, and yearning to soar toward its full potential.

I have been lucky to receive support from my family for raising me to understand the value of hard work, education, and respect for others. I am grateful for my friends who stayed by my side despite my busy schedule. The family physicians who took me under their wings during my training are amazing. They mentored me into the family practitioner I am today and I could not be more appreciative of their generosity.
My husband has been the best support for me as I finished my education and when decided to start my own company. He is my mentor, my support, my cheerleader and my best friend. Finally, the thousands of patients I have cared for over the years taught me how to be the best healthcare professional I can be. My patients and their families motivate me to always strive to be better. Their stories remind me to be appreciative of everything - no matter how big or small. My patients inspire me to make the most out of my life personally, professionally, and spiritually.

Tasneem Bhaji

Square1 Fitness - Founder and trainer

My name is Tasneem Bhaiji, I am 28 years old with an East Indian East African heritage. I am the owner and head trainer of Square1 Kickboxing and Strength Studio. I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and moved to Canada in 2001 at the ripe age of 11. Calgary has been my home for seventeen years. I opened my first small business Be Strong Fitness Women's Only Group and Personal Training at twenty three years old. I ran it out of my car for 4 years before I decided to make a permanent home at Square1, where I can provide more for my clients. I was raised in a Muslim household, where the values of family and culture were heavily engrained in me which I cherish very dearly and bring to my training, leadership and the connections I make. I am one of five children and have parents and siblings that are the most supporting, kind hearted, and encouraging individuals you will ever meet. I am certified Strength and Conditioning Coach and have been training in Muay Thai and Kickboxing for 7 and 1/2 years. I am lover of all things candy, and if you want to get on my good side, a pack of Sour Patch Kids just might get you out of a couple of reps during your session, no promises though. I love my job and the people I meet everyday inspire me to be better, and encourage me to push myself in my everything I do.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration is simply a woman who ignites fire in individuals to simply be the best versions of themselves. A woman who is limitless and understands that mistakes are just lessons and that its okay to be scared. Fear is the force that drives growth, and the only way to grow for the better is to face your fears. A woman who inspires and recognizes that every single person has potential, supports and encourages person to reach that potential.

What being recognized means to me ...
Being recognized as a woman of inspiration was completely unexpected. I have been in the fitness industry for years, and never once thought that doing what I love to do would change or affect people's lives in a positive way. I am a huge advocate for women, in every aspect. Some would call it feminism, I call it the belief that women all have potential to do the impossible. They just have to believe in their strength and mental toughness. I come from a very traditional cultural background and believe strongly in breaking stereotypical roles for women and recognizing that women can be strong leaders too. I didn't realize that I was doing exactly that, until I got nominated as a Woman of Inspiration. It has been a humbling experience and eye opening. It has made me realize that even the tiniest of acts can make a huge impact on every individual you come across. That no gesture goes unnoticed. I am extremely honored, and I hope to continue to inspire women more every day.

SupportHER's ...
I owe all my success to my immediate family, my close friends and my team. They are my everything and have been my constant rocks since the day I decided that a personal training was something I wanted to pursue as my career. Many people ask me the question, "how do your parents feel about your career?" My answer always shocks them, as it is assumed that because I pursued a very different career choice then most East Indian women, that it would not be accepted. However, ever since I have been young, my parents have always supported us all in everything sport, event or endeavor. They never once stopped us and to this day continue to show their support.

Stephanie Jackman - Women of Inspiration

Stephanie Jackman

REAP Business Association - Founder

Stephanie Jackman founded Respect for the Earth and All People (REAP) Business Association in 2006. A marketer by trade, she had a deep desire to tell the stories of Calgary's most progressive organizations to create demand for better ways of doing business. By showing the way forward, she believed that REAP could lead the movement to green and localize our economy thereby creating more benefits for more people. Today REAP is a community of 150 businesses that collectively represent $21 billion in revenue, 4 300 Calgary area jobs, $15 million in donations to local charities, and millions of tonnes of waste and CO2 diverted each year. Stephanie’s work in pioneering a more sustainable economy has been recognized by Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40, Calgary Herald’s 20 Compelling Calgarians, Pathways2Sustainability Leader in Commerce, imagine Calgary’s Partner in Action, and the Calgary Non-profit Innovation Award.

A Woman of Inspiration to me ...
A woman of inspiration lives with vision and purpose, using her unique gifts and resources to make a difference in the lives of others. She cares deeply about making a contribution, and it shows through her curiosity, compassion, grit, and innovation. No matter how big or daunting the challenge, she never gives up.

What being recognized means to me ...
Being nominated as a Woman of Inspiration is a very moving experience. I have worked hard and sacrificed to build REAP and derived tremendous joy and satisfaction from that. It is very important to me that I make a difference and, until now, I have focused on the community, economic and environmental impacts of my work. I didn’t stop to consider the positive emotional impact I have by leading by example. Knowing that I have inspired those around me to follow their own dreams is very gratifying. This is really the ultimate contribution that I can make for if I alone make a difference, I am just one person living well. But if my actions energize others to also make their own difference then together we are creating an army of problem solvers and world changers. This nomination is perhaps my most cherished external marker of success.

SupportHER's ...
Social entrepreneurship can feel like a lonely journey. As a pioneer of new systems there aren’t always others to turn to for solutions. I am blessed to have the unconditional support of my husband, mother and life coach who cheer me on in tough times and celebrate with me in good times.

As my work developed I was fortunate to assemble a community of change-makers to provide mutual support and share insights to advance our work. Each business owner that joined REAP and entrusted me with their vision for better business has added fuel to the movement. Michael Shuman, Amy Robinson and other allies at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) have also empathized, collaborated, and generously shared their time and knowledge. Imagine CALGARY and Thrive provided a broader base of like-minded people and learning opportunities to develop my leadership style and expand my perspective.