Expert Board Chairs
President of GroYourBiz & Chair, Vancouver & Victoria, BC
Barbara is a trade and international business development specialist, who has helped tens of thousands of businesses over the past 30 years. She is sought after by private companies, organizations, and governments around the world for her expertise and passionate support of fostering entrepreneurship, business development and growth, and creating win-wins through her extensive network.
Barbara is President & Founder of GroYourBiz and of Impact Communications Ltd., a multifaceted consulting company that features management training and consulting, and international product, business, and market development for the global marketplace. She created the wellrespected Uniquely Programs that assisted over 12,000 entrepreneurs access increased markets, and created and owned a national magazine, a retail store, and an e-commerce site supporting small businesses. Barbara is an international leader in the development of SME enterprises, whose work has assisted entrepreneurs and facilitated trade throughout Canada, South-East Asia, USA, South America, Europe, Afghanistan, India and Africa.
Chair, White Rock/Surrey, BC
Angelika Vance is the Director of Corporate Development at Ondine Biomedical Inc., the global leader in photodisinfection, a revolutionary approach to rapidly eliminate infection-causing pathogens without adverse side-effects or generating antimicrobial resistance. She made the switch from telecom to biomedical early 2018 after learning of the urgent need for an alternative to antibiotics and powerful efficacy of Ondine’s photodisinfection.
Angelika is an inspirational leader and creative problem-solver who translates vision into reality through intense outcome-focus, customer-needs understanding, and strong relationships and close collaboration with stakeholders. Her background spans leadership positions and expertise across customer and product marketing, strategy, business planning, product development, and analytics. She has a passion for supporting small and medium-sized businesses, which she focused on during her 20 years at TELUS: developing bundles, marketing programs, and customer experience improvements specifically for small and home-based businesses. Prior to joining TELUS, Angelika was involved with marketing in the industrial product development industry and also spent a number of years in the shopping centre retail industry with Bentall Property Management. Angelika holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from University of Phoenix.
Chair, Abbotsford, BC
Patricia Ross currently serves as Deputy Mayor for the City of Abbotsford and has been a councillor for 21 years. She is Chair of the city’s Intergovernmental Affairs committee, Vice-Chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District and serves on the board of the BC Municipal Finance Authority. Patricia’s philosophy toward government is to fully embrace sustainability principles, considering the environmental, social and economic impacts in all decision making. Patricia is a Fellow of Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) International, a research and training program dedicated to fostering worldwide sustainability. Her research has taken her to Oaxaca, Mexico; Costa Rica, Zimbabwe and Argentina. Patricia is a motivational and keynote speaker as well as a published free-lance writer who has a passion for helping businesses and communities reach their best sustainable potential. In December 2004, Patricia spoke at the International Climate Change Conference in Buenos Aires about the challenges and rewards of environmental conservation in local government. From 2000 to 2006, Patricia took on the job of Public and Media Relations Coordinator and Chief Lobbyist for the City of Abbotsford on their successful and precedent setting campaign of opposition to the polluting power plant proposal of Sumas Energy 2 (SE2). Patricia is excited about using her expertise and experience to help mentor women achieve success in business and politics through GYB. Patricia has been named one of the Abbotsford New’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Abbotsford several years in a row and has won many awards for her community work including Abbotsford’s 2009 “Woman of the Year,” “Newsmaker of the Year” from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, “Green Leader” from the Abbotsford-Matsqui Rotary Club, “Paul Harris” Rotary club Fellowship and Queens Diamond Jubilee award.
Chair, Kamloops, BC
Patsy is a former CEO of several not for profit membership driven organizations spanning 20+ years using business strategies, protocols and systems to grow them into thriving, influential advocates for seniors, businesses and home builders.
A former educator, over the years she also developed and successfully built several small businesses in the exercise, manufacturing and cosmetic industries. In 2014, Patsy moved on into private business communications and strategic development as the founder of PDH & Associates. She contracts with Service BC and Industry Training Authority as a Red Seal Trades Exam Invigilator and assists several small businesses on how to develop internal systems and marketing strategies to ensure success as their business grows.
A life long learner, Patsy has completed numerous courses from the BC Justice Institute in mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution and coaching and is currently working on her MBA at Athabasca University in Alberta. She is also a long time member of Toastmasters International, has a Distinguished Toastmasters designation and continues to mentor members and participate actively in her local club.
Chair, Burnaby BC
Ted James is semi-retired from 34 years of experience in the post-secondary system in British Columbia as faculty, Dean and Registrar, and has served as a board member for national and international associations fostering improved services to students. He is currently a consultant specializing in strategic enrollment management and the management of student services in post-secondary institutions. Ted has also had an ongoing career as an editor and writer of publications on many aspects of small business development. He co-authored with Barbara Mowat several books and guides including GroYourBiz, Your Business Matters, Strategic Growth, and Tips for Tough Times as well as the Home Business Report, a Canadian publication targeting the micro-business entrepreneur.
Chair, Calgary #1, AB
Consistently drawn to aligning brand, user experience and financial goals, Catherine Gardiner has spent her career building out sustainable commercial initiatives and moving concepts out of the lab and into the world. Her broad cross-industry perspective comes from senior strategic marketing and business development roles within various sectors: technology, wireless, professional services, sport and fitness wearables, environmental, aboriginal wellness, oil and gas, agriculture, and not-for-profits seeking sustainable and scalable revenue options.
Catherine recently spent over a decade immersed in the dynamic world of international innovation. With a Canadian subsidiary of Garmin Ltd, she developed a global brand for an industry-leading wireless protocol and helped foster Business to Business and Business to Consumer partnerships worldwide. She also positioned disruptive consumer and OEM products (4iiii Innovation) to a global customer base and built a new company (BrightonApps) mandated to commercialize a licensed mobile app for the Canadian market. Prior to her work in tech, Catherine managed an equally-innovative, grass-roots wellness facilitation initiative sponsored by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
Catherine’s current company serves as a champion for businesses intent on positioning their new and mid-size ventures for increased profitability. Clarity, ease and strategic foundations are at the core of their commercialization offerings.
A life-long volunteer, Catherine intentionally engages with local and international initiatives and is a zealous mentor to students and new grads. Three ‘wiser-than-me’ children taught Catherine that life and business are not mutually exclusive and keep her committed to living life on the joy side of the ledger.
Chair, Edmonton, AB
Deidre Hackman began her entrepreneurial journey early on in her career when she launched her own manufacturing/retail/wholesale business in the fashion industry, with stores operating in Edmonton and Calgary for 15 years.
In 2001, Hackman was offered a Global position at Nike, where she drove the women’s active business with a consistent growth averaging 30% compounded over three years. Following that, she became VP Design and Innovation for Speedo, where she developed the Fast Skyn franchise, including the LZR suit, recognized by TIME magazine as one of the most important innovations for 2008 Olympics.
Deidre then took on roles with Victoria’s Secret of VP Design, Innovation and Product Development; moved to Amsterdam as the Global Director Product & Marketing for MEXX, where she was also instrumental in taking the brand through bankruptcy proceedings and then re-launching both the brand and organization for new owners.
As Senior VP Product Merchandising Design, Innovation and Product Development for Spyder Active Sports, she led cutting edge innovation and technology for Olympic athletes, created a distinctive iconic look for premium skiwear, repositioned the brand, and developed business strategy/process within functional silos.
In her current capacity as Innovation, Brand Strategy, Sourcing/Development & Design: Consultant for DLH28Inc., she works with FBA AMAZON sellers to launch new brands on AMAZON as well as takes on a number of other projects both nationally and internationally.
Deidre’s wealth of experience, connections, and expertise are great assets to GroYourBiz, and a fantastic opportunity for women entrepreneurs in the Edmonton region. She knows that in order to grow a business you have to access trusted Advisors to help take you to the next level.
Managing Director, Alberta
Leann is committed to creating a better, more disaster-resilient world for families, businesses, and communities. Throughout her career, her leadership ability, entrepreneurial drive, innovative thinking and extensive network have enabled her to establish partnerships across sectors, industries, and borders; anticipate emerging and ongoing business needs; and design new ways of providing goods and services. For over a decade, she served as the Mayor of Calgary’s Executive Assistant, Community & Economic Development. Following that, she managed several political election campaigns; led key initiatives in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sector; provided business development services to the States of Mississippi and Georgia; provided leadership for the Organization of Women in International Trade; hosted numerous international trade delegations; offered a range of innovative business and economic recovery services; and worked on a number of high profile investment projects.
She currently serves as the CEO of Economic Developers Alberta and heads up HackmanCarty & Associates– with a focus on building strong, resilient businesses and communities. In December 2017, she released her “Master Your Disaster” readiness, response and recovery guides, which are readily available in paperback, Kindle, audiobook, and Spanish formats. She shares her expertise at conferences and events on a regular basis.
Chair, Grande Prairie, AB
For the past 18 years, Holly Sorgen has been working in the economic development field, in a variety of different capacities. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, Ms. Sorgen began working as Youth Programs Coordinator with SMEDA Business Development Corporation. Here she was responsible for the facilitation and co-coordination of the “I Want to be a Millionaire” program for budding young entrepreneurs. She also facilitated Youth Service Canada projects intended to reengage 15-30 year old youth to the workforce, and coordinated the Youth Connections program that provided career and employment counselling, job placement and training for youth. In 2005, Ms. Sorgen, began her role as Executive Director for Community Futures Grande Prairie & Region. Over the past ten years, Holly has helped the organization grow significantly, both in terms of advisory services, loan numbers, loan amounts, dollars leveraged, jobs created and maintained. Most recently, Holly was managing a portfolio of over 100 loans which has grown to a value of more than $7.5 Million, from an initial investment of $1.55 M in 1988. In addition to this, Holly has been an active facilitator and online trainer for the Community Economic Development Training Program offered by Economic Developers of Alberta; and part of a dynamic, 12-member Matrixx Mastermind, where she acts as an Accountability Partner to other members, creates opportunities for information and resource sharing and works to create strategic vision for the group and for her own business. In 2014, she put her entrepreneurial skills to work and started her own strategic planning and facilitation business, EmPower Up!
Lee Malleau, Ec.D
Calgary #2, AB
Lee’s education is in journalism & economic(s) development, with a focus on communications, marketing & business.
From a career as an award-winning journalist, she transitioned into economic/business development, & for 25 years led global trade & investment programs. Successes include investments like Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, the Oceanfront Development in Squamish, & over 20 years delivering results from business missions to US, Asia (China) & the EU. She is especially recognized as a best-practices leader for business programs during the Olympics. In the lead-up to the Vancouver 2010 Games, Lee worked with Richmond’s Olympic Business Team—Hosts to the Long-track Speed Skating Oval, to develop sponsorship, marketing & business development programs for the Olympic Oval & Live Site.
As CEO in Vancouver, she led the City’s Olympic Business Programs generating hundreds of millions in economic benefit & new investment. A follow-up mission to London during the 2012 Olympics produced over $100M in new direct investment. During this period, the team also produced Vancouver’s Economic Action Strategy promoting increased prosperity in the economy, business growth & productivity, global trade (especially with China) & talent attraction. Her recent role as head of business & trade in Calgary focused on delivering local targets on business investment generating over $100M in 2013, & included 4 major missions to China.
She is a founding director of Consider Canada Cities Alliance, & speaks regularly on business & economic development, trade & investment-especially with Asia, Olympic business, marketing & social media, leadership, & has hosted/MC’d multiple events globally. Lee is a champion of social entrepreneurship, has served on a multitude of boards, is a Past-President of Rotary, of the Economic Development Association of BC, & director of Economic Developers Association of Canada.
Deanna Litz Chair, Saskatoon, SK
Clients describe Deanna’s professional style as “the perfect blend of optimism and realism”. Her compassionate, light-hearted, and authentic approach puts people at ease, makes them laugh, and allows them to explore and develop their own vision, potential, and power. Since 2009, she has assisted over 200 people through business startup in the Praxis startSmart entrepreneurial program. Whether facilitating groups or coaching individuals, Deanna lights up when the creativity, connections, and inspiration flow. She considers it a privilege and honour to be invited into people’s exciting, turbulent, and challenging chapters of change in their lives. She knows it well. She draws from her nature, life experiences, and a relationship with the world known to those whose grandparents and parents no longer walk the Earth. She is the third generation to steward her family farm, and created Lazy Hounds Farm with her life and business partner Rick. They grow fresh, nutrient-packed foods without chemicals for independent food businesses and busy people in the Humboldt and Saskatoon areas. Proud to be Saskatchewan’s first certified bee-friendly farm, Deanna and Rick champion small-scale family farms with big impacts. Deanna’s commitment to self-sufficiency extends to community and provincial levels through her volunteer board positions. She served for years with Steep Hill Food Co-op in Saskatoon, a non-profit committed to affordable and accessible local organic food. Currently she is an active Director for the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers’ Association, dedicated to leading and growing our fruit industry and placing it alongside mainstream agriculture. Her personal recipe for those wanting the whole enchilada: Passion. Vision. Creativity. Action. Community. Persistence. Then STIR. IT. UP.
Chair, Kitchener/Waterloo, ON
Brenda Halloran successfully held the top job as the Mayor of the City of Waterloo, Canada from 2006-2014. Responsible for leading the City through one of the most dynamic and innovative periods in its history, Halloran was focused on economic development, international partnerships and smart city growth. She is a strong advocate for entrepreneurs and startups, business development, international opportunities and women in business.
Today, Halloran is the Chair of the Board of Startup Canada, President of the Trillium Innovation Venture Group and has her own consulting business. She is an Executive and Leadership Coach. Brenda is a keynote speaker on issues of women in politics, is often invited to speak internationally on the Canadian innovation and technology sector and also is a motivational speaker. She has a wide network and assists people on building their own networks.
She has recently become the Chair of the Board of the GroYour Biz, KW Chapter. Brenda is highly engaged in the community and is a member of the Rotary Club of Waterloo, on the board of Supportive Housing of Waterloo, the Sexual Assault Support Centre, oneROOF, a member of the local chapter of Equal Voice and assists many organizations with fundraising and leadership development. She believes in coaching and mentoring others and helping them achieve their highest potential. She continues to be involved in the local and national technology sector and works with new start-up companies.
Chair, Toronto 5, ON
Carolina Billings is an Executive Entrepreneur with 15+ years leadership experience in the fields of Business Development & Branding, Human Resources and Finance. In her current role she champions women’s emotional and financial independence. She also empowers by coaching/mentoring others to succeed through her private practice at The Wellness Group Inc. a business incubator & accelerator of professional entrepreneurs. Developing a hybrid of Business Development, Finance and Human Resources has enabled her to become a leading business partner.
Her specialties are her passions: Change Management, Leadership, Conflict Resolution, Onboarding, Business Development & Growth Strategies, Executive & Leadership Coaching and Communications.
Carolina is currently in pursuit of her Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) specializing in Small-Medium Business Enterprises. She holds a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies with Royal Roads University, Graduate Certificates from Cornell University and Queen’s University in the fields of Change Management, Leadership & Advanced Human Resources. She is a Co-Active Professional coach member in good standing of ICF. She is a CHRL in good standing with HRPA. She also holds a High Honor’s HRM Graduate Degree.
She is a published author of a nationally syndicated column “Coaching Corner” as well as a professional blog. She serves as a regular contributor to two national Supply Chain and Logistics magazines as a subject expert in Leadership and Human Resources. She is the founding Partner of Powerful Women Today and The Wellness Group.
Chair, Niagara Falls, ON
The INSIDE View’s Chief Experience Officer, Crystal D’Cunha is an innovative Customer Experience Engineer. Her purpose and passion is to IGNITE leadership teams to inspire excellence, EXCITE Employees to be consistently committed, and DELIGHT Customers to be loyal for life!
Crystal spent nearly two decades in the corporate world leading sales forces valued more than $50 million. As an award-winning entrepreneur, accomplished Senior Executive, and Customer Experience Expert with more than 22 years of success in the retail, construction, non-profit, and e-commerce industries, Crystal can invigorate any business.
Through Exploration, Experimentation and Examination Crystal designed The INSIDE View’s Signature Sales System: the 7 steps to Customer Experience Excellence (CXE)! Crystal was honoured with the 2016 “40 Under 40” business achievement Award and was nominated in 2016 and 2017 for the Women in Business awards. Humbly winning dozens of Sales Leadership Awards, she set new standards during her 13-year tenure with Danier Leather as a National Trainer.
In 2012, Crystal lead a sales team to achieve the Avid Ratings Award, where Mountainview Homes was recognized to be among the top 25% of builders nationwide for customer experience. It was a proud moment in her career when over 93% of their homebuyers said they would recommend Mountainview Homes to family and friends. Using innovative tools to engage her team of sales professional, and maximize sales opportunities, Crystal lead Mountainview homes to be the number one home builder in the Niagara region by achieving a 120% increase in sales in 2015.
Crystal attended York University and Brock University for Business Communications. She is a Certified International Keynote speaker and leadership coach with the John Maxwell, a human behaviour specialist trained by Tony Robbins, and an experience engineer trained by the Disney institute, just to name a few. Crystal contributes to her
industry by engaging as a board member for the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. Crystal also sits on the board of Customer Experience Week Canada. As proud football mom, her son and she enjoy making a committed contribution to the YWCA of Niagara and to the community in which they live.
Marg Hachey Managing Director, Ontario
Chair, Aurora, Mississauga, Toronto 3 & 4, ON
Margaret Hachey was previously the owner of Duocom Canada Inc. She founded the company in Toronto in 1980 and with organic growth and acquisitions expanded coast to coast. Its success earned it recognition as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Private Companies, by Arthur Andersen, CIBC and the National Post two years in a row. Chatelaine and Profit magazine recognized her over a 10 year period as ranking in the top 10 of the Top 100 Women business owners in Canada. Previously, she has been on the Steering Committee of Step Ahead, and a mentor for six years with the program, helping women entrepreneurs whose businesses were in the second stage of growth. She was also Special Advisor to Youth in Motion Education Foundation a non-profit organization to help youth gain access to higher education and as a board member helped launch Top 20 under 20.A sought after keynote speaker, Margaret has addressed audiences across the country on various topics. She is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management and York University’s Schulich School of Business. As a founding member of WPO (Women Presidents Organization) in Canada, Margaret has an opportunity to network and support other women in like roles.
Chair, Markham/Richmond Hill, ON
Hilda Gan is the Founder and Chief People Officer of People Bright Consulting, a company that helps businesses grow and succeed by helping them understand and develop a business structure and processes where People/staff are the key to success. Her background as part owner (with her husband) of iTRANS Consulting, a successful Engineering Consulting firm that grew from 2 to 125 employees in 7 offices across Canada is a natural fit for her role as Chair of GroYourBiz. She has been there at the many stages that business owners might go through – from start up to medium size company to acquisition of the company.
Hilda has over 20 years of HR expertise with the added practical approach of a business owner. A creator of one of the 50 Best Workplaces in Canada®, top 10, two years in a row, Hilda helps companies who want to be the best company they can be through creating a strong work culture and developing processes and a strong business structure that builds on people for company success.
A nurse by profession, Hilda started her career as an ICU nurse and had roles as Educator, Manager, Director of Nursing and IT Project Manager. She took those skills and experience and started her journey as an entrepreneur, in Health Care Consulting, joining her husband at iTRANS Consulting and lately Human Resources Consulting.
Hilda attended University of Toronto obtaining a BScN and a MHSc. (Administration). A desire to give back to community, she has served on Boards and Committees including Markham Stouffville Hospital, Ontario Nursing Information Group, Ontario Hospital Association Regional Council of Executives Committee, United Way York Region, United Way Toronto York Region, Human Resources Professional Association York Chapter, and Unionville Home Society.
Chair, Barrie, ON
Jane Schnurr is passionate about coaching high achieving entrepreneurs to push past self imposed boundaries! With over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience in both non-traditional manufacturing businesses and consulting, Jane brings her laser sharp insight and creative solutions to help entrepreneurs take the strategic actions they need to expand their business and gain the freedom to enjoy life. She is a powerful and dynamic coach. She brings a unique blend of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and sense of fun to all that she does. Jane is very successful at working with clients who are taking back their power and rebuilding their lives. She believes from overcoming adversity in her own life, that each of us can “dance to the beat of our own drum and dazzle the world with our brilliance!”.
Chair, Cambridge, ON
Nicole’s passion is people. She is the owner and operator of Cambridge Centre Honda. Many think of her as in the car business, but she likes to think of herself as being in the “people business”. As a current business owner, she understands the importance of working “on” your business and not just “in” your business. She grasps the challenges facing female entrepreneurs as well as the opportunity to thrive as a business owner. Nicole believes in the power of peer learning. She currently is a member of GroYourBiz Kitchener-Waterloo and has participated on three peer-to-peer advisory boards. Personal development plays a significant role in Nicole’s life. She is a John Maxwell Certified Leader, a certified coach, and practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a toastmaster and a life-long learner. Nicole currently serves as Incoming Chair of the Board of Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Director of the Board for the Montessori School of Cambridge, and Board of Advisor at the Small Business Centres of Waterloo Region. Nicole holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University and a certificate in General Dealership Management from the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Sarah Corey Hollohan
Chair, Fredericton, NB
In her position as a coordinator and development officer for the Women in Business Initiative (WBI) with the New Brunswick Association of CBDCs, Sarah works with women entrepreneurs that are either starting or expanding their business. Over the past 12+ year she has enjoyed seeing these owners triumph through difficulties and succeed. She provides one-on-one counselling with aspiring or existing women entrepreneurs, liaises with female entrepreneurs with the goal of growing their business, arranges group training session for clients, provides entrepreneurs with information regarding start up, financing and other available programs, and offers counselling sessions, professional development, business skills development and other opportunities to take their business to the next level.
As a coordinator, she engages in activities and projects on behalf of WBI on a provincial, Atlantic and national level that have been identified as being a pivotal growth opportunity for women entrepreneurs. Some of Sarah’s beneficial qualities that she brings to her position are as follows: Quick-witted communicator, collaborator with relational business skills, efficient problem-solver, top level organizer, and the ability to take the initiative to get first-rate results. Sarah has experience in sales and event planning, curriculum and program development, building and managing partnerships, project management and strategic planning, target marketing to name some of her many assets. Sarah also has Board experience, she co-created a two day training course for women entrepreneurs to learn more about board functions and also has participated (past and current) as a board member herself.
A passionate student, Sarah holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from University of New Brunswick with a concentration in human resources, e-commerce and trade, as well Sarah is currently undertaking the Forum for International Trade Training. She brings a vast array of knowledge through past work experience, family business and community engagement.
Sharon Gilmour – Glover
Chair, Burlington, ON
Sharon Gilmour-Glover is Chief Implementation Officer at Light-Core, a company specializing in leadership, strategy and transformational change. She has unique skills as a business strategist leveraging research in human behaviour and organizational dynamics to help clients achieve results.
With a Bachelor of Education and graduate work in both entrepreneurship and adult education, Sharon has developed an on-line business program entitled FLOW². Sharon simplifies complex and seemingly impossible business problems with practical, easy-to-use tools that provides results.
Light-Core is partnered with the Wissen-Solomon Group, a forward-thinking Philippines based business-consultancy, to bring FLOW² to South-East Asia.
Sharon is passionate about the work, and as an experienced consultant, speaker and adult educator has a personal commitment to your ongoing success.
“Action is the foundational key to all success” Pablo Picasso
Chair, Toronto #3
Sherri Munro is the founder of Munro Consulting Services, and co-founder of Capital Ready, specializing in working with women entrepreneurs, and as a result, enabling them to feel prepared, knowledgeable and confident to grow their business. Capital Ready offers consulting services to better position companies for growth, working with established businesses that want to scale up to seven figures in revenue. Capital Ready creates tailored blueprints that assess barriers and identify opportunities for growth as well as offer consulting services to help them develop human and financial capital strategies. We also offer strategic consulting to financial institutions to help them develop the right language and approach, make meaningful connections and have better conversations with women entrepreneurs. WHY? Because too often business owners don’t ask for the capital they need for significant growth and we want to influence those conversations with lenders or investors. We are driven by our passion to see companies reach their potential and seize opportunities for growth and to position financial institutions to engage in this conversation.
Susi Graf is the chair of the Vaughan GroYourBiz board. GroYourBiz is an organization that builds peer-to-peer advisory boards for women entrepreneurs. Under the banner of MyBusinessMyBoard™, GroYourBiz offers training, support, advisory services and strategic alliances for women ready and committed to take their businesses to the next level.
Susi is a dedicated and passionate marketer who specializes in brand building, content creation, planning impactful corporate events and developing strategies for business growth. She brings 25 years of experience in corporate business, sales, coaching and working closely with executive leaders. During her long tenure in the accounting and consulting industry, Susi advised and worked with some of Canada’s top privately managed and entrepreneurial companies. While at Deloitte, she ran the acclaimed Canada’s Best Managed Companies Program nationally, interviewing and coaching companies to highlight their strengths and enabling them to shine among their peers. In addition, she was responsible for the Women of Influence Luncheon Series and worked with the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Program.
A graduate of the Ivey School of Business at Western University, Susi is quite engaged in her Vaughan business community working with both the City of Vaughan’s Economic Development Group and as a member of the Women’s Committee of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, Susi started working with the global angel investment network, Keiretsu Forum, helping early stage companies find viable funding alternatives paving the way to game-changing innovations across industries and borders. Susi is passionate about connecting people, ideas and innovations. She inspires leaders and entrepreneurs to think creatively and focus tenaciously on building relationships to help their businesses grow.
Chair, Moncton, NB
Drawing from 30+ years of experience in leading small, large and virtual teams across Canada, leading teams is one of Cindy’s greatest strengths! In business today, real accomplishments are made by team members that share a common vision and a commitment to each other. Building a great team is a rare achievement. In Cindy’s experience, she believes each team member needs to challenge their own personal limitations in the service of the overall vision. By knowing their “Why’s”, they bring passion to everything they do. Of course, great teams don’t just happen; they are nurtured, guided and challenged on an on-going basis. This is where Cindy Comeau can really make a difference…for the individuals, their respective teams, and for the organization. Cindy has been a Director in the health solutions / insurance industry working with executives, management, and all levels across a network of national non-profit organizations. She has been Chairperson for a number of founding initiatives, and national and regional conferences, where she has been the organizer, speaker, and/or host. Some other initiatives were partnerships with Sales Advisory Council, Client Advisory Council, National Marketing Committees, National Coordinator Committee and Physician’s Group.
Chair, Brantford, ON
Elizabeth completed a Master of Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University. While pursuing a PhD at the University of Toronto, she collaborated with her colleague, Dr. Sandra Burt in the publication of “Taking the Women’s Movement to Queen’s Park: Women’s Issues and the New Democratic Government of Ontario“. Elizabeth has been practicing in the fields of public opinion and market research for over 20 years. Elizabeth is the owner of Lorenzin Market Research and has held senior positions in international market research firms. Elizabeth is a member of the MRIA, Market Research Intelligence Association, and adheres to the member code of conduct.
MyBusinessMyBoard United Kingdom:
Co-Chair, London, England
Emma-Jane is an Entrepreneur running a series of lifestyle businesses. She is the Founder and Managing Director of 3 companies in the UK and is the face of the Wellbeing Show on That’s TV. She currently develops professional and personal lives as a mentor and offers management training to her own team in the UK of 40+ employees. She has evidence based leadership skills for women in all areas of business life and does not hold back on any opportunity. She speaks regularly at Leadership Events and networks her way around the world. She launched SHEnetWORKS Empowering Women Events in the UK to encourage women to collaborate. She is well known for her sharp focus to giving better opportunities and higher platforms for women all over the world. With her laser like attention to detail she ensures her ambition is driven by her passion to give those in her network opportunities.
Emma-Jane is publishing her motivational tool book, Don’t Hold Back, in 2018. The publication is to guide those feeling stuck in the web of life back to a strength that will give more than just possibility. Her client list is hugely extensive. She uses her own personal journey to educate and strengthen those around her and is looking forward to Co-Chairing GYB in the UK.
Co-Chair, London, England
Susan Kabani is a graduate of the School of Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University. After university, spent two years as a legal paralegal at a top New York Law firm before attending Tulane University Law School from 2006-2009. At Tulane, Susan received a Sport Law certificate and certification in alternative dispute resolution which includes skills such negotiation, mediation and arbitration. During law school, Susan worked as a legal intern for the National Football league in their London office. Her role began with working on contracts for sponsors, but went on to include working on commercial pitches for European sponsors.
Upon graduation, she accepted a role as Legal Affairs and Business Development for a growing laser manufacturing company based in London who wanted to expand to the US market. Within the first 2 years, she moved into a business development role which included sales and marketing, all customer engagement work and operational management. During her time at the company, sales tripled and a new product was added to the company’s portfolio.
In 2016, Susan launched Ugenie, which provides organisations with tailored digital platforms to more effectively engage their membership. Ugenie focuses on small to medium sized organisations that have an existing membership or customer base to which they deliver regular content. The platform also allows enables the organisation to build a stronger community in private and customised digital space.
Managing Director, Florida
Chair, Tampa Bay
“If a man wants his dreams to come true, he must wake them up” – this has been Sabina’s mission when she went into business to partner with African women in 2004. She has successfully led her USA -companies Beautiful Options USA (dba A Gift To Africa), Basa Body LLC and Muchero LLC – USA to educate, promote and market high-end crafts, coconut-oil skincare , and products from indigenous African plants from almost 300 women in 9 African countries. She has consulted with various African governments, as one of international businesses/consultants to teach women on how to promote and sell their products in the USA and beyond. She has been a distinguished guest and recipient of numerous awards for her success in working with women in developing countries. Sabina provides women partners with financial, managerial support, production assistance and sourcing including: • Practical training in cultural sensitivities, quality control, new product development, fair trade business management, computer literacy, strategic planning, bookkeeping and marketing. • Coordination of the production of numerous designs for customers in the USA. • Sourcing of raw materials in bulk resulting in reduced costs and increased product quality.
Sabina is currently heavily involved in women’s leadership locally and internationally through her company and global organizations such as GroYourBiz, OWIT, and WIN. As a leader and facilitator she supports every mission that empowers women and families worldwide and also provides women leaders with a unique leadership development experience, designed to help them step up to their next level of success.
Managing Director, Washington
Maryann Nelson started her banking career in an entry level position. When she left the industry in 2009, she was Chief Executive Office and Chairman of the Board. Maryann’s journey saw her as a founding executive officer at three separate community bank start-ups. Each of these banks was focused on serving small and middle-market businesses. As a hands-on community banker, Maryann consulted with and assisted companies in myriad sectors with a wide range in sales levels, employee count, operational sophistication, and financial acumen. Coupled with her positions of CFO and COO in her own organizations, she developed a keen sense of connection between the strategy and tactics of success. Among her core competencies are finance, operations, human relations, board and shareholder communication, compliance and corporate governance. Among her passions are strategic thinking, incenting the right behaviors, and aligning values with corporate culture. Maryann’s current focus is her private consulting and mentoring practice where she tunes up companies and fine-tunes leaders. With a hero-worship admiration for business owners and executives, she helps clients from a perspective of best practices, practicality, professionalism and profits. Maryann has been active in several professional and service organizations. She currently serves as a director for Seattle Community Law Center and a Trustee for Seattle Girl’s School. In the pas she has served as an officer and board member for the Community Bankers of Washington, Soroptimist International and Bank Administration Institute. She served as a trustee for a large insurance program, and was a member of the Seattle Chapter of the Women Presidents Organization. She is a past member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and Seattle 4 Rotary. She has taught courses for the American Institute of Banking and presented at various professional conferences. Maryann is a graduate of the Honors Liberal Arts program at Seattle University and holds an MBA from the University of Washington.
MyBusinessMyBoard Virtual Trade Advisory Board
Betty Wood, Chair
GroYourBiz Global Virtual Trade Advisory Board (CDN/EU/UK)
Betty Wood is Principal Consultant at W Consulting – initiatives focused on improving the success of women entrepreneurs. Betty is known for her distinguished career in supplier diversity, international development consulting, women’s business market leadership, and commercial banking. Her professional career of 32 years with RBC enabled success as a founder of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, a consultant with the IFC and World Bank, and a founding leader with WBE Canada. She has received multiple awards for her work from RBC, The International Alliance of Women (TIAW); Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT); and the Global Business Women’s Network (USA).