Amanda Lindhout traveled to Somalia as a freelance journalist to research a story on the millions of people affected by two decades of war, drought, and famine. Kidnapped by teenage criminals outside of the capital city, Mogadishu, Amanda spent 460 days enduring unimaginable hardships as a hostage in one of the world’s poorest countries. Today she’s asked by audiences around the world to share her story of forgiveness and resilience.
She captured international headlines again after her 2009 release when she returned to Somalia to lead famine relief efforts in 2011. She founded the Global Enrichment Foundation, a non profit organization that raised close to 3 million dollars to help educate and empower women and children in Somalia and Kenya.
An internationally renowned public speaker, notable clients include Google, Bill Clinton and Richard Branson. In recent years Amanda visited over 25 countries as a keynote speaker at events as large as 16,000 audience members.
Amanda has been featured in publications including Vogue’s September Issue, O Magazine, ELLE, The New York Time Magazine and The Globe and Mail and appeared on Dateline NBC, The Today Show, Anderson Cooper 360, CNN, Sanjay Gupta MD, NBC Nightly News, BBC, MSNBC, CBC’s The National, Radio Canada International, and a variety of other TV and radio programs both domestic and international.
Amanda’s memoir, A House In The Sky, is a New York Times bestseller and is slated for development as a major motion picture with Annapurna Pictures. Oscar nominated actress Rooney Mara is set to produce and star in the film.
Monica is the Founder and CEO of Canadian Business Chicks, Women of Inspiration and The Nest Foundation. Monica is a native Calgarian and entrepreneur at heart with a passion for building authentic and relevant connections, empowering women and embraces life with courage, confidence, commitment and integrity. Monica's mission is to help women truly prosper at all levels of life and business with purpose.
Ever since she hatched the idea for Canadian Business Chicks and its Nest in 2014 and Women of Inspiration in 2015, Monica has been carrying a torch brighter than the one atop the Calgary Tower, spreading the word and building excitement around her ambitious vision. And given her knack for inspiring others and making people believe anything is possible, the success of the Nest should come as no surprise.
"Women of Inspiration often don’t seek recognition." –Linda Olsen
Born and raised in Calgary, award-winning journalist, Linda Olsen graduated from SAIT Polytechnic in 1988 with Honours in Broadcast Journalism and started her career that same year at Global Saskatoon.
She joined Global Calgary in 1995. In her 20 years at Global, Olsen has seen some of the biggest events to hit the city including the 2013 Southern Alberta Floods. Olsen and co-anchor Gord Gillies covered the flood for 10 hours on-air, keeping viewers up-to-date on the significant event. The coverage hit home for Olsen as she watched the events unfold live, impacting the community she grew up in. It was one of the most difficult days of her career.
Olsen was also host and producer for Global’s Woman of Vision series since its inception in Calgary in 1998. For 15 years, she highlighted the stories of inspirational women in the community. In 2001, the Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association (AMPIA) nominated the special as Best Public Affairs Program. In 2002, Olsen received the AMPIA Award for Best Anchor and in 2003, she accepted the Best Host award for the Woman of Vision Special. She was also part of the team that won Canada’s Best Newscast at the 2014 RTDNA awards.
An advocate for the community, Olsen is a honourary board member of Believe in the Gold, a local charity aimed at raising awareness and supporting research for children with cancer in Calgary. She’s also on the St. Mary’s University communication committee.
When not working, Olsen can be found out in the city, hosting a number of charity events or spending time with her three children.
"Coming together to recognize women who inspire us is a great way to build community." –Michelle Morgan
Michelle Morgan lives her life through her passions. Driven to tell the stories that inspire her, she has been acting since her youth, and has found new activities and causes she cares about along the way. When she’s not acting, she can be found fighting for women’s rights, or snowboarding and surfing with her family. Michelle will be back as Lou when Season 10 of CBC’s “Heartland” premieres in the fall of 2016.
Michelle is a first generation Canadian of Chilean decent. She was born in Calgary and moved away at a young age, growing up mostly in Vancouver and Toronto. She never thought of herself as an actor until her grade 10 drama teacher asked her to join the Improv Team. Michelle loved making people laugh, and realized the power of theatre and film to change the way that people see the world. She decided she would dedicate her life to acting.
Michelle studied theatre at the University of Toronto, where she also minored in Greek theatre studies, classical literature and sociology. She began her professional acting career on the stage, performing Shakespeare in the park in Toronto, summer stock theatre and creating plays with her friends. She also dabbled in live sketch comedy, notably performing at Laugh Sabbath nights in Toronto. Her next theatrical venture will be playing the femme fatale in Vertigo Theatre’s film noir inspired the production of "The Big Sleep."
Michelle’s first appearance on the big screen was the lead role in George A. Romero’s "Diary Of The Dead" (2007.) Notable television appearances include the CW’s “Supernatural,” City’s “Package Deal,” SyFy’s “Stargate: Atlantis,” and Showtime’s “The L Word.” Currently, Michelle is starring as Lou Flemming on CBC’s “Heartland,” the story of a family dealing with the highs and the lows of running a horse rescue ranch set against the backdrop of Alberta’s stunning rocky mountain foothills.
Michelle is a passionate advocate for women’s rights and she has volunteered with Women’s Shelters across Canada for the past 15 years. In 2013 she became the “I Am Courage” Campaign ambassador for the Brenda Strafford Centre for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, and in 2015 she became the “My Homefront” campaign ambassador for Homefront, a Calgary-based non-profit which serves victims of domestic abuse.
Michelle will return as Lou on the long-running series “Heartland,” which will release in the fall of 2016.
"A woman of inspiration to me is someone who can embrace her own life journey and be authentic to herself. A woman who empowers others to be vulnerable with themselves so they can remember who they are, and emerge knowing how strong they can become, with love and support." –Shauna Walker
Shauna Walker, an avid spa goer and inspiration behind The Spa Ritual, is passionate about the guest experience and is an advocate for healthy lifestyles.
The culmination of Shauna’s vision to create a refined spa experience, inspired by the gracious hospitality experienced during her travels to South East Asia, is The Spa Ritual, a quality day spa located in NW Calgary.
Shauna has instilled her passions into her creation, carefully cultivating The Spa Ritual program, which honors and respects each Guest, inviting him or her on a personal path to rejuvenation.
As Spa Director of The Spa Ritual, Shauna mentors and inspires her team of professionals to make a difference in the life of each guest – by planting a tiny seed of self-rejuvenation as the cornerstone to wellness during every spa experience.
Following lessons learned from her own life experiences, Shauna deeply believes in the vital need of “taking time out” to reset and renew the process of our bodies and minds.
"What speaks to me about Women of Inspiration is the heartfelt desire to work with women in providing a support system they may never have had. This is often the first step needed to begin the healing journey, to be included and to have a safe place to belong."
Advice for Women Entrepreneurs:
The most important advice I can give is to take time for yourself to be still and dig deep into your vision stay true to you. You can do anything you want to do with hard work and determination. Be flexible with change, don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Everything starts from the top in every area of life. You must have a spirit of excellence and that must filter down to your employees. You are only as good as the people you hire. The sky is the limit!
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them” Maya Angelou