CEO and President
Canadian Women’s Foundation
Paulette Senior has devoted her life and career to breaking down systemic barriers and building up diverse women and girls. Her personal experience immigrating to Canada from Jamaica as a young girl ignited her interest in social justice and helped make her the dynamic, grounded leader she is today.
Paulette’s career began in social services in some of Toronto’s most underserved neighbourhoods. She witnessed the need for systemic change and learned the power of putting the voices of women and equity-seeking communities first. She became known for her excellence in shelter, employment, and housing service provision, as well as for her intersectional approach to advocacy. She has earned numerous awards and has become one of the most respected women leaders in Canada.
In 2016, Paulette joined the Canadian Women’s Foundation as President and CEO after a decade serving as CEO of YWCA Canada. She is a sought-after thought-leader on numerous issues including gender equity and gender-based violence; women’s poverty and the wage gap; girls’ empowerment; and leadership. Her focus at the Foundation is to bolster an inclusive national movement for all women, girls, and communities across Canada.
“The premise of the Foundation when it was created was to transform the lives of women and to support the underpinning of a women’s movement in Canada. Being able to lead the next iteration of that is an incredible opportunity.” – Paulette Senior
Professional and volunteer background
Paulette has worked with all levels of government and civil society to address issues including poverty, housing, gender-based violence, immigration, and social justice. She has led, managed, and operated shelters, employment programs, and housing programs at organizations such as Yellow Brick House, YWCA Toronto, Macaulay Child Development Centre, Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre, and Central Neighbourhood House. She is former Chair of the Board at Women’s College Hospital and currently sits on the Boards of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation and the global Women’s Funding Network.
Education and awards
Paulette graduated from York University with a double honours BA in psychology and urban studies. Over the course of her career, she has won several awards including: the African Canadian Achievement Award, the AfroGlobal Leadership Award, the Black Women Civic Engagement Award, the Black Business and Professional Association’s Harry Jerome Trailblazer Award and the MicroSkills Margot Franssen Leadership Award. In 2021, Paulette was presented with an honorary doctor of laws, honoris causa, by the University of Lethbridge. She is featured in the book Inspiring Canadians: 40 Brilliant Canadians and Their Visions for the Nation (Douglas & McIntyre), scheduled for release in March 2022.
Laurie is a senior communications executive, now finishing her term as the CEO of Ogilvy Canada, the Canadian operation of a global network. She has grown with the firm since joining in 1988, an Honours BA in hand from Victoria College, U of T. She assumed increasing responsibility and progressively senior positions, which culminated in the role of CEO – the first woman to hold this post.
Her office has distinguished itself within the industry behind its creation of brands with purpose: brand campaigns such as Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, Huggies No Baby Unhugged, and Hellmann’s Real Food Movement. It is this intersection of business growth and societal impact that she finds most rewarding.
She has been active as an industry leader: board member and chair of the Institute of Communication Agencies, chair of various award committees and industry conferences. A life-long learner, she’s taken courses in executive finance, leadership, digital transformation, and women in leadership.
She has spent her career coaching and mentoring women to help them overcome gender bias in career choices and advancement, through seminars, workshops, and one-on-one coaching. She sees working with the Canadian Women’s Foundation as a new, very real and broader way to continue helping women and girls reach their potential. Having had some terrific mentors and “support sisters” over her career at work, and as a mom, she wants to pay forward that advantage.
Sarah Mariani is a business analyst at North America’s largest urban innovation hub, supporting Canada’s most promising startups by helping them grow, create jobs and solve society’s greatest challenges at MaRS Discovery District. Outside of the office, Sarah supports Young Diplomats of Canada as their Alumni Relations lead – connecting young policy makers to decision-making tables around the world. As a researcher, Sarah has published work on youth entrepreneurship, women’s economic development and digitalization.
As a senior leader in the health, education and the social-service sector, Laurie has over three decades of experience leading fundraising and non-profit organizations.
She was the chief spokesperson in all areas relating to fund development, donor cultivation and stewardship, and government relations/advocacy. She also has extensive experience in board cultivation, development and governance.
Laurie successfully led a variety of organizations to build new financial capital and organizational accomplishment. Most recently, she served as CEO of the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation and member of BC Women’s Senior Executive Committee. In this role she provided leadership in determining the highest priority needs of the hospital and integrating these needs with initiatives to secure private sector, public and government funds.
Prior to Laurie’s six-year tenure with BC Women’s Hospital Foundation, she was the Vice President of Development with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and the Executive Director of the BCIT Foundation and Alumni Association for over a decade. Laurie provided overall leadership and direction in the creation and management of an integrated fund development program, which included fundraising for special programs, capital campaigns, and endowment funds.
Her dedication to the charitable sector, which included participating in the Association of Fundraising Professional (AFP) both as a member and director, is reflected in her having received a national Gold Award for Fundraising by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
Laurie believes that when women and girls realize their full potential, they contribute to better businesses, industries, communities, and families. That’s why it’s so important to remove obstacles and provide necessary support to those who need it most.
Jas Kaur Hothi, CPA, CA fundamentally believes when we empower girls and women, we’re not only transforming their story. We’re slowly but surely knocking down barriers and opening doors to change the narrative for all women, full stop.
An EY Canada Partner and National Practice Leader, Jas guides Canadian businesses as they reimagine their strategies for the transformative age. She founded the firm’s Financial Services Enterprise Risk practice in Canada, and serves in critical C-suite roles at media and entertainment companies, crown corporations and non-profit organizations looking to reinvent themselves from the outside, in.
At its core, Jas’ work focuses on advising corporate boards, executives and business leaders on all aspects of their risk transformation strategy. But it’s how she does it that sets her apart. Jas fosters a sense of belonging, and cultivates a culture of inclusion, among her team of diverse practitioners from coast to coast. Above all: she encourages others to do the same, and leads by example. Jas is the Executive Sponsor for EY’s Professional Women’s Network nationally and in Toronto. Jas has proactively sought ways to use her voice as a catalyst for change. Some days, that meant leading EY Power Up sessions geared to help women achieve career growth. Other days, it’s serving as a mentor, both within the firm and the broader community. Jas is also a founding member of the United Way Next Gen cabinet at EY, which seeks to engage young talent’s support of at-risk communities.
As a Canadian Women’s Foundation Board Member, Jas is working to create true momentum, finding new – and better – ways of solving gender-based violence, inequality, and barriers for girls and women from all communities. She brings formal Institute of Corporate Directors training, vast professional experience, tremendous passion for the cause, and deep commitment to making progress in every possible way.
Lisa O’Connor is a Chartered Professional Accountant with over 20 years of experience in various finance roles, including her current role as Vice President, Finance at Superior Propane. She was also Senior Vice President, Finance at Just Energy, where she spent 14 years of her career.
Lisa has been responsible for all areas of finance, including financial reporting for public companies, financial planning and analysis, as well as credit and collections. Lisa has had experience in the board room through presenting at audit committee meetings as well as having served as a board member for an insurance company in Barbados.
Over the years, Lisa has helped and mentored girls and women, including holding a leadership role in the women’s council at Just Energy to encourage and develop female leaders in the organization. In addition, Lisa volunteers as a trainer and assistant coach of a girls’ hockey team. Lisa graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science as well as a diploma in Accounting.
Kimberly Hu, CFA is a Vice President, Investment Counsellor at Guardian Partners. She advises ultra-high net worth families and institutional clients including foundations and endowments to address their unique financial challenges, including stewardship responsibilities, fiduciary duties and investment solutions. She has extensive experience collaborating with Boards and Investment Committees as well as internal partners such as finance, audit and donor contribution teams. Kimberly has also been involved with educating and developing strategic philanthropy plans for her private clients and families.
Throughout her career, Kimberly has taken a personal interest in mentoring and educating women on financial literacy and wealth planning and she has been involved with organizing events centered on these topics. She has led initiatives at her prior and current organization to inspire and empower women to take charge of their financial futures by building a community that focuses on advice, education, accessibility, and women’s distinct needs.
Kimberly received her Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree from Queen’s University. She is a CFA Charterholder and a member of the Toronto CFA Society.
As a Board member of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Kimberly will continue her efforts to support and empower girls and women through removing organizational, financial and societal barriers. She aims to transform one life at a time to create a world where gender equality becomes the status quo.
Dr. Dawn Lavell Harvard, Ph.D., is a proud member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, the first Aboriginal Trudeau Scholar, and has worked to advance the rights of Aboriginal women as the President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association since she was first elected in 2003.
Dawn has been the Director for First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University since 2016, having left her previous role as President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada in order to return to her roots as an educator.
Dawn is a full-time mother of three girls. Following in the footsteps of her mother Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, a noted advocate for Indigenous women’s rights, Dawn has been working toward the empowerment of Aboriginal women and their families ever since joining the Board of the Ontario Native Women Association as a youth director back in 1994. She is also a co-editor of the original volume on Indigenous Mothering, “Until Our Hearts Are on the Ground: Aboriginal Mothering, Oppression, Resistance and Rebirth,” and has released a book along with Kim Anderson, “Mothers of the Nations.” Recently, Dawn co-edited a book with Jennifer Brant, entitled “Forever Loved: Exposing the Hidden Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.”
Janan Lewars is a Product Marketer at Top Hat, an education technology company that continues to disrupt and improve higher education. At Top Hat, she is also a committee member of the Diversity, Inclusion and Belong group, which seeks to create a space for people to do their best work while being their authentic selves. She has organized and moderated panels for employees that explored the experiences and challenges of Black women in academia and on digital accessibility.
With an interest in youth politics and international development, Janan holds a BA in Political Science and African Studies from the University of Toronto and an MSc in Development Policy and Politics from the University of Birmingham. Her academic research focused on how young people create social and political change through party affiliation and voting choices. Outside of the classroom, she was an active member of student life as President of the International Development Society. This provided her with the opportunity to organize events surrounding topical issues in International Development.
Passionate about women empowerment, Janan is also presently the Co-Chair of her High Schools’ Old Girls Alumni Association where she is able to organize events for current and former students that promote mentorship, guidance and a sense of community.
Dr. Ramona Lumpkin joined Mount Saint Vincent University as President and Vice-Chancellor in 2010 and retired from her position in June 2017. Her previous roles included Principal of Huron University College and Vice President Academic and Provost of Royal Roads University. Dr. Lumpkin began her university career in Kentucky where for 13 years she held a variety of positions in higher education that included institutional planning, continuing education, faculty development and university teaching. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Kentucky and is a former Fulbright Scholar to England.
Throughout her career, Dr. Lumpkin has been actively engaged in advocacy on behalf of women’s issues, in promoting the role of women in higher education, and in enhancing access to education for adult and Aboriginal learners.
She is Past Chair of the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU), Past Chair of IWF (Atlantic Region), Past Board member for Universities Canada, Board member of Women Active Nova Scotia, and Chair of Engage Nova Scotia. In 2014, Dr. Lumpkin was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her leadership in post-secondary education, her promotion of community-based learning initiatives, and her support for the advancement of women.
Peggy Moss is a writer and civil rights advocate and the author of three award-winning children’s books on bullying, relationships and identity: Say Something, Our Friendship Rules and One of Us. She has been actively engaged with the Canadian Women’s Foundation since moving to Canada in 2008.
A lawyer and former hate violence prosecutor, Peggy served as an Assistant Attorney General in the civil rights unit of the Maine Department of Attorney General and as Associate Director of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence.
She has consulted on bullying and hate violence issues and presented to educators from the elementary to university level as well as camp leaders, law enforcement and health care workers seeking to identify and prevent harassment and violence and create safe spaces. She was previously a business development director and strategic communications advisor to Blake, Cassels & Graydon, a leading Canadian law firm, where she has also played an active role in diversity and inclusion initiatives and co-founded an ally program.
Peggy has volunteered with the Canadian Women’s Foundation in a number of capacities, including as a grant reviewer, advisory board member and project advisor. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of PREVNet, a leading network for promoting relationships and eliminating violence in Canada.
Peggy is a graduate of Princeton University and the Washington College of Law at American University. She earned her MFA in writing from the University of Southern Maine, Stonecoast.
Meenu Sikand is currently the executive lead, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Meenu brings with her a true passion to create accessible, inclusive and welcoming communities. As the Hospital’s first ever executive lead for equity, diversity and inclusion, she is leading and advancing the hospital’s efforts in EDI across multiple dimensions including team culture and wellness, program design and delivery, employment, research, teaching and learning, community engagement and anti-stigma initiatives.
Meenu’s role is integral in advancing the hospital’s No Boundaries strategy including its commitments to lead and model social change and be a model employer of people with disabilities. Meenu is also the co-chair for the inaugural IDEA Task Force (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility), which is part of the Hospital’s action plan to address systemic racism within and outside of the hospital. She is also currently an active member of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine Diversity Advisory Council and City of Toronto-Equity & Inclusion Advisory Group.
In addition to her role at the Hospital, Meenu is also the founder of Accessibility for All, a non-profit organization that works to identify, address and meet the needs of marginalized communities. Prior to joining the Hospital, Meenu has worked in various management roles within corporate, government, non-profit and academic sectors.
Meenu is an award-winning disability rights advocate, an educator and a sought-after speaker. She has travelled the world speaking on a wide variety of disability topics including mental health, cultural competencies, parenting, social exclusion, accommodation and race.
Her many volunteer roles underscore her commitment to diversity and creating environments where everyone can participate fully. She has been appointed as a member on the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council by the Minister of seniors and Accessibility. Meenu has served on the executive board of the Independent Living Canada and CILT. Currently she serves as a board director for Canadian Women’s Foundation, Amar Karma, Health and Wellness Awareness Network and one of the founding members of the Race and Disability Canada (RAD), among others.
Meenu received two awards in 2020: an Induction to the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, Senior Executive of the Year.
Olivia K. Sobey serves as legal counsel for Sobeys Inc. Prior to her work at Sobeys, Olivia articled for the law firm Stewart McKelvey LLP and worked for Scotiabank as a trust officer, where she gained experience working with charitable trusts and foundations. Olivia is currently a trustee of the IWK Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation, a board member of the Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies and a past board member of the Sobey Foundation.
Through her involvement with non-profit groups, she has helped promote and develop initiatives that increase access to mental health treatment options and support systems for children and adolescents. She has also collaborated with community leaders to provide mentorship opportunities for indigenous women and young mothers.
Olivia is a graduate from Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law and completed her Certificate of International Comparative Law at Queen’s Law School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (Hons. Psychology, cum laude) from Saint Mary’s University and is a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and the Barreau du Quebec.
Sandy A. Vander Ziel has been a passionate advocate for issues affecting women and girls for decades. Her personal and professional focus has been centred around being an agent for change. Sandy has always believed that when we remove barriers, women and girls lives can be transformed and she has dedicated her personal and professional work to supporting organizations to remove those barriers.
As a senior lawyer and partner with Dunphy Best Blocksom LLP, Sandy practises exclusively family law. Her practice is limited to alternative dispute resolution where she specializes in Collaborative law, Mediation, Arbitration and Parenting Coordination. Sandy is an active leader in the legal community and has served on the Executive of the Canadian Bar Association Family Law Section and is the current Chair.
Sandy has been an active community leader for over 3 decades and has held numerous leadership roles and has significant experience volunteering for non profit organizations. She is the past Chair of the Calgary Youth Justice Society an organization that helps youth in conflict with the law to find what is strong in their lives through programs proven to build resilience, reduce risk and nurture community connections. Subsequent to Sandy leaving the Calgary Youth Justice Society, the Board established an award in her name, the Sandy Vander Ziel Heart of Change Award.
Sandy’s passion for issues related to family violence began at a very young age and in 2007, her passion led her to the Board of Sonshine Community Services, a transitional shelter for women and children fleeing family violence. Sandy was a member of the Board from 2007 to 2019 and served as the Chair of the Board from 2009 to 2019. In her role as Chair, Sandy was instrumental in supporting the shelters first capital campaign to raise $1,000,000 to build the first children centre in Canada. The Sonshine Children’s Centre which opened in 2015 provides children who have been exposed to trauma and violence with therapeutic intervention to work toward breaking the cycle of violence. At the opening of the Centre, Sandy shared that the Children’s Centre was an “idea whose time had come and an opportunity for children to receive the therapeutic intervention required to transition their path to one of hope and to regain the joy that should be intrinsic to every child’s life.” It was during her time on the Board of Sonshine that Sandy was honoured with the Women in Law Leadership Award for Service to the Community. Shortly after leaving the Board of Sonshine, Sandy joined the board of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters and currently chairs the Social, Legal and Ethics Committee.
Sandy is thrilled to now be joining the Board of the Canadian Women’s Foundation as she is a passionate advocate for issues affecting women and girls and is honoured to be able to continue supporting the integral work of the Foundation.
Yes, I want to take action and make a difference!
Yes, I want to invest in advancing gender equality!