Sometimes at a conference we spend the first day getting comfortable with meeting new people, and we think you deserve better than that! Kick off your WILB conference with a high energy, action packed, informative 90-minute improv workshop that will help you to get connected right away. Laugh and learn as you meet conference participants, work on leadership and confidence-building skills, and get comfortable with the uncomfortable (all while kicking it’s butt!) Join performer and Second City improv facilitator Jennine Profeta for this inaugural event that will get your conference off to a fantastic start!
Samra Zafar is a multiple award-winning, top graduate of the University of Toronto, a world-class TEDx Public Speaker, an author, and a social entrepreneur. She is one of 8 highly distinguished alumni to serve as a Governor for the University of Toronto, and the youngest person to receive that honour. Her passion is to motivate and empower people to believe in themselves, achieve their goals and reach their full potential, no matter what the circumstances might be. Her story and work have been featured in prominent media platforms, including Toronto Life, CTV, CBC, Global News, Yahoo Canada and many others.
After arriving in Canada as a 16 year old bride in an arranged marriage, Samra faced over a decade of oppression and opposition against her education. Refusing to give up, she pursued her education as a single mother while working multiple jobs and raising her daughters. She graduated with al Master's Degrees in Economics from the University of Toronto with the highest distinctions, while winning over a dozen awards and scholarships. She was the first mature student to win the most prestigious John Moss Award, a $17k scholarship awarded annually to the single most outstanding student across all three U of T campuses.
Samra is the founder of Brave Beginnings, an upcoming non-profit organization, dedicated to providing survivors of abuse with mentorship and friendship to support them in their goals and help them build a life of respect, dignity and freedom.
2016 Thrive magazine cover girl Unstoppable Tracy Schmitt BRLS, BEd, MBA as recently seen on ‘Voice for All’ has climbed mountains in Nepal, captained 110-foot-tall ships in the Eastern Atlantic, won the bronze medal in alpine skiing…oh and did I mention she was born a 4-way amputee? She is an international keynote speaker, trainer, and she’s funny too. Now she wants to add author to her long list of amazing accomplishments. Her book is titled, ‘Unstoppable You: Exceed uncertainty, embrace change, earn respect.’
You may have seen her on CBC, in the Globe, heard on the radio or online for her controversial role advocating accessible transportation and UBER Assist. Or maybe you recognize her from Oprah when featured in the ‘Raw Beauty’ Campaign and Tracy was one of the models. Her latest adventure was as a Quest for the Gold Athlete where Tracy competed in world cup regattas across North America and around the world embarking on a Paralympic Sailing Campaign for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil! When she didn’t get Rio she became Manager of Planning and Integration creating the largest most successful games ever at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Toronto 2015 events.
As a dynamic individual Tracy’s other work experiences include Humanitarian International Teacher in Uganda, Jamaica, and Mexico. As well is an educator in Corporate Learning and Development. While at Air Canada and SDM she worked simultaneously with management and unions over the competing demands of airline bankruptcy looming and pharmaceutical reform to implement a restructuring plan that enabled Air Canada and SDM to maintain their high standards. This experience has enabled her to develop strong negotiating skills and insights on how to defy the odds making conflict-ridden teams supportive and looking ahead results focused.
Let her share with you tips about overcoming adversity and putting your best foot forward (pardon the pun) to create the life of your dreams. Like Tracy, you probably have a multitude of stories within you. Let’s face it, if you are an entrepreneur, you have new ideas popping into your head almost daily…it’s in our dna
Mary is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) with a passion for innovation, impactful leadership and workplaces that explode with the power of engaged employees and stakeholders. Her more than 25 years of varied human resources and operations experience drives her desire to foster workplace cultures of trust, collaboration, celebration and change. She is well known for her fast tempo, direct communication and bringing out the best in people. She is a skilled communicator, solutions finder and focused business and human resources strategist.
As a seasoned management consultant, Connie Bonello brings several years of global executive level experience. She is currently an Associate Partner at IBM and provides analytics solutions and services to enable innovation, business insight and financial performance to financial service organizations. Ms. Bonello has deep experience in strategy, governance, information management, business analytics as well as risk management and regulatory compliance. She has provided consulting services to financial service organizations across Europe, the Americas and Asia. Ms. Bonello is an active member of the community. She is a Board of Governor of Trent University, Chair of the Bonham Centre Advisory Board, University of Toronto, and Advisory Board member Schulich School, Masters of Business Analytics Program. She is the recipient of the 2015 U of T Arbor Award and the 2013 IBM Volunteer Excellence Award.
Carolyn Ellis is the founder of BrillianceMastery.com and helps her clients successfully lead change, innovation and growth. Carolyn is like a modern-day cartographer, combining her Harvard-trained brain with deep listening skills to help her clients navigate the challenges they face and uncover the best paths to getting the results they want. Whether as a visual facilitator, speaker, trainer or graphic recorder, Carolyn specializes in helping decision-makers and organizations access creativity, improve engagement, clarify communication and strategic vision, and develop high-performing teams. Her next book, “Savvy Solutions: How to Work Visually, Align Teams, and Accelerate Results”, will be published in 2017. For more information or to learn how Brilliance Mastery can support your business or organization, please visit www.BrillianceMastery.com.
Sapna Goel is a successful content strategist, and communications, marketing and branding professional with 15+ years of experience in the public, not for profit and social business sectors, along with extensive work with corporate, foundation and educational partners.
For more than a decade, she led the strategy and development of the brand and content for WE, founding the Creative and Communications team to deliver on marketing, communications, design, educational resources and editorial needs with both a global strategy for Canada, US and the UK. Her leadership on program and curriculum development has ensured that the educational value is intrinsic to the organization’s mandate of empowering young people to be educated and thoughtful change leaders. She has been instrumental in developing social impact campaigns and content to inspire and empower activism and advocacy among young people. She consults with companies and organizations across sectors including film and the arts, health, social businesses and start-ups.
A storyteller at heart, Sapna has lent her talents as a wordsmith and editor to several book and editorial projects along with numerous regional and national publications. Sapna holds a degree in political science and comparative literature from Western University, and a journalism degree from Ryerson University.
As Senior Director with Catalyst, Vandana is a trusted thought partner for Catalyst's supporting companies in Canada. She coaches Canadian companies with respect to their strategies to advance women into leadership and create inclusive work environments where women, men, and all diverse groups can thrive. Vandana is a frequent speaker on workplace and inclusion-related topics to accelerate progress for women and diverse groups into leadership, and has delivered engagements across Canada, the US, and Australia. Prior to joining Catalyst, Ms. Juneja practiced immigration law, following which she worked in the Global Diversity and Inclusion groups of two Canadian banks. With a passion for empowering women, she has also worked as a Research Associate for the Pay Equity Task Force in Ottawa, and travelled to Vietnam with an NGO in partnership with the University of Toronto to evaluate and report back on a micro-finance project designed to help women living in poverty to understand and enter the mainstream banking system. Ms. Juneja has earned a B.Comm. from McMaster University, an MBA from the University of Windsor, and an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa. You can follow Vandana under the Twitter handle @ms_juneja.
Nicole is the Co-Founder of Connected Impact, a consultancy focused on building clients’ business through a focus on social good, merging profit & passion. She is a highly driven, strategic and creative entrepreneur who seeks and offers innovative solutions to complex problems and passionately pursues those solutions drawing in the necessary resources to make them possible. Nicole has a deep toolkit that spans business development, strategic partnerships, business design, advertising, marketing, and revenue development. She is an expert at acquiring customer & employee insights as inputs into design frameworks that build brands, drive customer and employee engagement, and increase value for stakeholders. With 20 years’ experience, Nicole has held a variety of positions in both the public and private sectors. In addition to Connected Impact, she is the Business Design Specialist at Learn2, a business partner at UGO: Travel for Change, co-creator of Meet-up for Startups and the Chair of the Board at Photographers without Borders.
Dawn Memee Lavell-Harvard is a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, and former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she is committed to social justice generally and breaking the cycles of poverty for Aboriginal women and their children specifically. Dawn urges young women to “fight fire with fire” by using their academic achievement to resist colonization and oppression. Dawn is co-editor of two volumes on Indigenous Mothering and an edited collection examining the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada (see above), as well as the mother of three girls. She was the first Aboriginal person to become a Trudeau Scholar and in 2011, Dr. Harvard earned a PhD in education from the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Harvard’s research focuses on addressing achievement gaps and fostering academic success for Aboriginal students. She is currently Director of the First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University and remains committed to grassroots activism as she continues to serve as president of the Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) and vice-president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
Leanne Nicolle, idea generator, girl advocate and globally minded social innovator left her private sector marketing executive career to dedicate her life to helping girls around the world and social impact initiatives.
Leanne has a passion for human development and has worked in the social space for UNICEF, Plan Canada and as the founder of girl !mpact.
In 2010, she joined the team at Plan Canada as the Director of Corporate Development and Youth Engagement to work primarily on the domestic and global platform for girls’ issues and rights through the Because I am a Girl initiative.
Most recently, Leanne continued her journey in the social space as the Executive Director of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Through her work with amateur athletes on the global stage, she is personally invested in ensuring girls stay in sport and that marginalized youth have access to achieving their athletic dreams. After Rio in 2016, Leanne decided to expand her reach and re-established her consultancy, Ubuntu Marketing, a collective putting organizations in touch with humanity. This gives Leanne the opportunity to apply her social impact philosophy to various organizations and industries including sport, charities, education institutions and private sector companies.
Mother of 2 teenagers, Leanne lives with her husband in Toronto.
Heather Rea MS, WCP, RYT is certified as a Mindfulness Facilitator and Wellcoaches Health & Wellness Coach. She teaches mindful awareness practices to the general public to promote health and well-being. She has co-facilitated mindfulness since 2010 in a variety of settings including hospitals, universities, non-profits, and schools.
Her practice is based on the belief that we all have the innate ability to live a wonderful and meaningful life. Yet sometimes, our life experiences can throw us off balance, disturbing our connections to others and distorting the way we perceive the world around us. At times like this, we may need some help in finding our way, and creating the life we desire.
People seek mindfulness instruction to decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and cope with chronic physical or emotional pain. Mindfulness Meditation is a practice to help you attain greater clarity and focus, increase awareness of the present moment and thus, help you navigate life with a greater sense of ease and flow.
Heather is deeply grateful for the healing she has experienced through the practice of mindfulness. She enjoys encouraging others to live with greater compassion toward themselves and others through this powerful practice.
Krista is currently the Vice President of Communications at Great-West Life. Her previous role was in Public Affairs and Communications for
Coca-Cola Canada. Previously, she has held the same role at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Group of Companies in Canada and at Bristol Myers Squibb Canada.
She has more than a decade of public affairs and communications experience in Canada and worked in Latin America and Asia Pacific as well as the US. Prior to industry, she was a senior political staff in the Ontario Government.
Krista has more than 20 years of non-profit experience both in management and at the board level. Non-profit board and fundraising experience includes the Canadian Cancer Society, the Ontario Lung Association, Durham Abilities Centre, Durham Mental Health Services and various political campaigns and fundraising events. As well, corporate board experience with the Toronto Port Authority. Currently, she is a member of the Selection Advisory Board of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and the Markham-Stouffville Hospital Board of Directors. She is the past chair of the Board of Action Against Hunger Canada and was a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority.
Krista has an undergraduate degree from Trent University and an Executive MBA from the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
Rann is the Global Head of People Operations and Culture for WE, working across Canada, India, Kenya, the US and the UK. She has ensured the recognition of Free The Children as Canada’s Top Employer for Young People and Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures in 2013 and 2016. Rann has been awarded admission into the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) Wisdom II Mentorship Program featuring Canada’s most influential female audience. She serves on the University of Toronto’s Career Centre Advisory Board. Passionate about organizational culture, Rann has been appointed to Waterstone Capital’s Board of Governors where she responsible for identifying organizations with top corporate cultures. In 2014, Rann was selected as one of 16 Canadians to work on public policy and leadership development as an Action Canada fellow. In 2015, Rann was invited as a judge at Venture for Canada's National Fellow Selection Day encouraging the development of entrepreneurial skills for young people.
Rann holds degrees from Lancaster University and Trent University. She has worked on the Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme held in partnership through the Japanese and Canadian governments. Rann has been profiled in Maclean’s magazine University Rankings Edition, Education Today, Charity Village, The National Post and Canadian HR Reporter.
Jill Valentine is a co-founder of UGO – Travel for Change where as a Transformative Travel Coach she uses her innovative approach of utilizing travel and volunteerism as powerful coaching tools to help her clients create powerful change within including clarity and sense of life purpose, while at the same time changing their world. Jill has also enjoyed coaching gap year students during their year of transition and growth as well as international humanitarian disaster response volunteers from around the globe. Prior to becoming a social entrepreneur Jill poured her energy and passion into the non-profit sector for over 20 years at the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and ParaSport Ontario amongst other charities in the areas of event and volunteer management, fundraising, and community development. As an avid humanitarian Jill has volunteered thousands of hours of her time for over 30 different organizations both locally and abroad, most passionately within the disability sport arena in East Africa. Currently Jill is the President of the Toronto Tornadoes ParaSport club, a board member of the Toronto Accessible Sports Council, promotes volunteerism for Volunteer Toronto and will be launching her book Dare to be a Dandelion as a fundraising tool in the fall of 2017. As an adventurer Jill has summited Kilimanjaro, cycled from Brussels to London, white water kayaked, and bungee jumped right into the Nile River - she is currently enjoying the incredible adventure of motherhood.