Since 2012, we have honoured more than 100 women in communities across Canada and the U.S. through the BMO Celebrating Women program. We will continue to recognise women who lead and contribute to the success of their communities because it’s time women’s accomplishments were seen.


Burlington Honourees

Michele Bailey, President, Blazing the Agency – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Michele Bailey is the President and CEO of Blazing, a creative strategic communications agency she founded over 24 years ago. Blazing delivers essential marketing services to a diverse array of clients across North America. Michele is also the founder and creator of My Big Idea(TM), an interactive program designed to harness the talent of individual employees to drive corporate growth. Developed for high-potential employees, emerging leaders or teams, My Big Idea creates the focus and engagement that drives top talent retention, employee loyalty, and performance. Michele is a firm believer in giving back to the community. In addition to her charitable work, she is a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), and WeConnect International. She was the first women-owned business certified in Canada for diversity and inclusion. Michele is the founding member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) in Canada, and sits on their international board. Her book, It’s NOT All About You, It’s About the Company You Keep, is a testament to her entrepreneurial journey. Michele is skilled at recounting stories about her business experience and career history, and enjoys the opportunity to share them.

Ruth Liebersbach, CFO, McMaster Innovation Park – Innovation & Global Growth

When it comes to innovation and global growth, there are few places more internationally recognized than McMaster Innovation Park (MIP). MIP, serving as a global focal point for innovation, creativity, learning, and research, would not be what it is today without the efforts and dedication of Ruth Liebersbach. As the CFO of MIP, Ruth has been instrumental in generating millions of dollars for the Hamilton economy, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenues, and over 700 full-time jobs. As the previous Chair of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and as having acted as CFO for other companies in the past, Ruth is able to draw on her previous experience and knowledge to ensure that MIP is able to grow and perform to its full potential. Ruth continues to positively impact the lives of Hamilton residents and helps to pave the way for global growth in everything she does as CFO.

Calgary Honourees

Sara Austin, Founder & Lead Director, Children First Canada – Expansion & Growth In Small Business

Sara L. Austin is the inspirational founder of Children First Canada – a national non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and empowerment of Canada’s children. Motivated by the ‘Children First Act’ in Alberta, Sara launched Children First Canada in Calgary in 2015. She also served as the CEO of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, supporting victims of child abuse in Calgary and Southern Alberta. With 20 years’ of leadership experience in the non-profit/charitable sector, Sara is an expert in international human rights law and has helped change the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children. She has passionately led global advocacy campaigns, helped share major public policy efforts, and launched successful philanthropic campaigns. Sara has twice been awarded Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Women, and in 2017, she was the youngest woman ever inducted into Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame.

Lana Stenhouse, Owner, Electrogas Monitors Ltd. – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Lana Stenhouse is the Owner of Electrogas Monitors Ltd. – a sales, service, and rental company specializing in gas detection and fire safety equipment. Lana and her husband Don started Electrogas in 1997, and have since grown to be a major supplier of gas detection needs throughout Western Canada’s oil and gas industry. While Don sadly passed away unexpectedly in 2016, Lana was left as the sole business owner and had to keep the company going in honour of what they built together. Lana had to determine if she could continue to operate and excel alone in the heavily male dominated oil and gas industry. Accepting the challenge, Lana decided to transform the way the company discussed strategies, and built up a more engaged team. Now every employee feels like they share the successes of the business. With all of Lana’s hard work, professionalism, and determination, Electrogas has just finished their highest revenue month in two years, even after the severe oil and gas slowdown in Western Canada.

Lara Murphy & Karen Ryan, Co-owners, Ryan Murphy Construction – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

When Lara Murphy and Karen Ryan found themselves as the only women on a construction site in Banff, both a friendship and inspirational business idea was born. The pair opened Ryan Murphy Construction in 2008. The business name was chosen intentionally as a result of the pair working in a male-dominated industry, they assumed people would see the name and think it was a male company. Since opening, the pair has worked on successively larger residential and commercial projects. Even with the recent economic slump and oil collapse, Lara and Karen have continued to find success. Ryan Murphy was listed on the PROFIT 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies for the years consecutively 2015 – 2018, and was named one of Alberta’s 50 fastest-growing companies in 2017 by Alberta Venture. The two entrepreneurs are also actively involved in the Calgary business community, promoting women in small businesses.

Edmonton Honourees

Glori Meldrum, CEO, g[squared] – Community and Charitable Giving

As CEO of a strategic marketing and advertising agency, and survivor of childhood sexual assault, Glori saw the opportunity to use her influence to create a support program for child victims of assault. Founded in 2008, Little Warriors national charity is dedicated to preventing, recognizing, and reacting to child sexual abuse through awareness and the promotion of adult education. Glori also championed the building of the Be Brave Ranch, Canada’s first long-term, in-residence treatment program for children between the ages of 8 and 12. The centre is funded entirely through public donations and was built by volunteers. Glori’s vision, energy, and passion inspire not only the survivors she works with, but also her community. In 2009, Glori was recognized for her contributions to the community as a recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Social Entrepreneur Category. In 2010, she was named one of the Top 40 Canadians under 40, and in 2013, received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Glori was also the first female president of the Entrepreneur’s Organization, Edmonton Chapter.

Marie Soprovich, Owner & CEO, Aquarian Renovations – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Marie Soprovich is not only the first woman to sit on the Edmonton Region Canadian Home Builders Association Board; she is also the Owner and CEO of Aquarian Renovations – a construction-design company specializing in renovation services and custom-built homes. Marie and her late husband Doug began the company in 1991, selling earth awareness products in boutiques, and eventually transitioned the business into the construction industry. They have accomplished their goal of using design and renovation to transform people’s living spaces into places of beauty, function, and joy, being named Renovator of the Year by the CHBA Edmonton Award of Excellence in Housing in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. In every sense, Marie embodies purposeful and empathetic leadership. Along with directing Aquarian’s sales, marketing, and operations, she focuses on building meaningful connections and progress within the company, the home building industry, and her community. Marie continues to be an active committee member of the Renovation Committee, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and the Executive of Business Networking Group, Synergy, and was a founding member of the Edmonton Chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization.

Patti Ganske, General Manager, Parkland Fertilizers (Weteskiwin) Ltd. – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Patti Ganske is a true pioneer with a significant voice in the Agriculture-Retail industry. She was one of the first women in Western Canada to own an Ag Input Retail that wasn’t a husband and wife venture. Patti strives to educate both ends of the agriculture value chain from producer to consumer, through volunteer work, community involvement, and grass-roots initiatives. She has served on several boards, including the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers, the Independent Dealers Entrepreneurial Association, and the GROW Community of Independents. The last few years have been very busy for Patti and her staff at Parkland Fertilizers (Wetaskiwin) Litd. – a locally-owned, independently operated retail business that provides crop-related resources. While serving as co-owner and general manager of the company, Patti opened a second location in Lancombe and constructed a new site in Wetaskiwin to accommodate their growing business. Parkland Fertilizers has also been involved in several recent agriculture and sustainability initiatives, including the Ambassadors of Agriculture program, Agriculture More Than Ever, and Sustain by United Suppliers.

Romonda Kuntz, On Track – Kuntz & Company Ltd. – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Ms. Kuntz is the President of On Track – Kuntz & Company Inc., which provides cost-effective solutions for diesel engines and trucks. This year, she and her husband are marking their 20th year of operations. Despite economic challenges in the region, the company has grown its revenue consistently since 2014 and continues to expand.



Halifax Honourees

Denise Doucet, President, Denise Doucet Strategic Partnerships Inc. – Community & Charitable Giving

When she is not operating the strategic partnerships company that she herself built from the ground up, Denise Doucet spends her time giving back to communities and enriching the lives of those around her. Denise is an active volunteer with organizations that work to provide a better quality of life for those for those who need it most. In particular, Denise focuses her efforts on supporting the lives of at-risk youth and indigenous people. Denise serves on the Glooscap Ventures Board, which exists to help manage Glooscap First Nation business on behalf of the community. She also supports Kids Help Phone by sitting on the organizing committee for the Ruth Goldbloom Ladies Golf Classic – a fundraiser which has raised almost $900,000 for the organization. In addition, she is a new Board Member of the IWK Hospital Foundation. Denise continues to lead by example, and hopes to inspire others to have a sense of identity and purpose.

Evelyn Ernst, Co-owner, Terra Beata Farms – Innovation & Global Growth

Bio to come.





Kim Geldart, Pharmacist with Chester Pharmacy Limited (Pharmasave) – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Kimberley Geldart is a passionate pharmacist with a true desire to help others and to be involved in the communities where she works. Starting off as a pharmacist at one single Pharmasave in Nova Scotia, Kim now successfully owns and operates eight pharmacies, six commercial multi-tenant locations, and two residential buildings across the province. Kim’s entrepreneurial spirit has enabled her to grow in the business world, both as a pharmacist and a business owner. Her commitment to remaining involved in her community while also providing quality products and care to residents is what makes her such a stand-out. On top of her dedication to her work, Kim has been instrumental in several healthcare initiatives in her community, such as the opening of a new health care centre. Kim’s business ventures continue to grow and thrive as a result of her drive and hardworking spirit.

Kitchener-Waterloo Honourees

Cathy Lasby, Executive Director, Ontario Plowman’s Association; Owner, Preferred Agri-Marketing Services – Community & Charitable Giving

As an advocate for women and youth in agriculture and industry champion, Cathy Lasby has passionately dedicated her life to agriculture and her community. Although Cathy was appointed Executive Director of the Ontario Plowman’s Association in 2009, she has worked with the association for over 15 years, forging partnerships and developing innovative ideas to organize the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo each year. In addition to being the owner of Preferred Agri-Marketing Services – a public relations firm, Cathy is also a major sponsor of the youth agriculture programs, including Dufferin 4-H, the Ontario Junior Hereford Association, and the Canadian Junior Hereford Association. She has served as a board member with many agricultural organizations, including the Ontario Hereford Association, and the Canadian Hereford Digest, and is one of two founders of the National Junior Beef Heifer Show at the Agricultural Royal Winter Fair. She is a longstanding volunteer trustee of The Keith Gilmore Foundation (Canadian Agriculture Scholarship Fund). In 2000, Cathy was recognized for her dedication to agriculture, when she was presented with the Excellent in Agriculture Award at the Royal Winter Fair by the Federation Women’s Institute of Ontario. In 2013, she was honoured by the Canadian Hereford Association with their Distinguished Service Award.

Erika Lindner, President, Waterloo Synchronized Swim Club – Community & Charitable Giving

As President of Waterloo Synchronized Swim Club, a volunteer, non-profit club that believes in creating and promoting health and fitness opportunities for girls, Erika Lindner is a true inspiration and leader in her community. Erika has endlessly given her time and financial resources towards encouraging young women to not just strive for excellence in their sport, but to achieve all the intangibles that go with it. She has helped young girls become women who are proud of their bodies, and know the importance of hard work, team spirit, commitment, and a healthy lifestyle. Erika is also a Syncho Canada National Judge and Referee as well as a member of the Synchro Canada Rules and Competitions Committee. Internationally, Erika is the Canadian Representative for AWNA Technical Synchronized Swimming Committee, from 2015 to 2019. In 2015 Erika was the Toronto Pan/Para Am Games Chair on the Sport Organizing Committee for Aquatics, Synchronized Swimming. Through her involvement with Synchronized Swimming, Erika has demonstrated that women can play a very important role in sport locally, provincially, and nationally.



Lorna Hundt, President, Great Canadian Holidays – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

In 1984, Lorna Hundt and her husband Larry decided to open a company focused on arranging innovative and large group excursions. In 1990, they bought their first motorcoach, and expanded their business to include charter bus transportation services. Lorna is now President of the tour management sector of Great Canadian Holidays, and Co-Managing Director of Great Canadian Holidays and Coaches. Today, Great Canadian is not only Ontario’s leading motor coach and tour operator with over 60 vehicles in their fleet; they also have a full service auto care centre, parking facilities, and a GoCo Diesel station on site. They were named 2014 Motorcoach Operator of the Year by Metro Magazine and were the 2014 recipient of the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce Business Excellent Award for Environment and Sustainability.

GTA Honourees

Marilyn Sinclair, President, All About Words Inc. – Community and Charitable Giving

Marilyn Sinclair is a remarkable community leader who is committed to promoting Holocaust education and testimony across Canada, ensuring justice for aging Holocaust survivors, and engaging and educating descendants of Holocaust survivors. Her passion and goal is to educate students so that they will use their learnings to create a better society for everyone. She is currently planning a global conference to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII and the liberation of the concentration camps in 2020. Marilyn is also dedicated to ending violence against women. As the founder of Sexual Violence on Campus Awareness Week and the Sexier Campuses Initiative, she created a movement that spread across Canada. Even with her work as CEO of ALL ABOUT WORDS, the largest combined writing, editing, proofreading and translation company in Canada, and Secretariat Central, a full-service association management company, Marilyn maintains a leadership role on many charity boards and contributes her time and resources to the causes she is passionate about.

Ruthie Burd, Founder, Lunch Lady – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

For more than 25 years, Ruthie Burd has worked to develop and bring to life a service that allows busy parents to cater to the needs of their children. The Lunch Lady, Ruthie’s ever expanding business, prepares and delivers thousands of healthy meals to children at elementary schools around Canada. Ruthie’s goal is to bring together individuals around the country who are invested in the health and well-being of school children. Through franchising, Ruthie has been able to grow her business from serving one single student to serving millions of hot meals to children over the course of a year. As of right now, there are 36 local owner-operated Lunch Lady kitchens serving 140 communities in five provinces, with over 300 dedicated staff members working to make Ruthie’s vision a reality. As a result of her dedication and innovation, Ruthie has been successful in expanding her business to the size it is today.

Sheena Chandaria, Co-owner, Conros Corporation – Innovation & Global Growth

Sheena Chandaria is a business-minded individual who has been instrumental in both the growth and revitalization of her family’s manufacturing business. Conros Corporation—one of Canada’s fastest-growing manufacturers of tape, mailing and moving supplies—has, under Sheena and her siblings’ ownership, taken the industry by storm through pioneering innovative products and processes. Partnered with major names like Office Depot and Walmart, Sheena has been able to make their wide range of high-quality products available to customers worldwide. On top of manufacturing innovative and practical products, Conros Corporation is a certified minority business, according to the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council. From their quality and durable merchandise, to the number of customers they continue to serve worldwide, it is evident that Sheena and Conros Corporation have experienced global growth as a result of innovative thinking.


Montreal Honourees

Dr. Brenda Milner, Professor at McGill University – Montreal Neurological Institute

Considered one of Quebec’s most renowned scientists, as well as one of Montreal’s greatest citizens, Dr. Brenda Milner’s work and publications have influenced generations of scientists and the entire McGill community. Her work helped to develop the field of neuropsychology – a new sector of cognitive neuroscience combining neurology and psychology. Brenda graduated from the University of Cambridge in England and completed her Ph. D. in 1952 at McGill University, and at 99 years of age today, she is still a full-time professor and researcher. Her scientific contributions have been recognized by more than 20 honorary degrees and many prestigious awards from international scientific societies. In 2007, Brenda used the funds she received from various grants and awards to establish the Brenda Milner Foundation. The foundation helps support neuro-psychological research through educational scholarships and fellowships for doctoral and post-doctoral students studying in the area of neuropsychology. Since 2011, her Foundation has donated over $220,000 to McGill University.

Francine Guay, President, M.I. Integration – Innovation and Global Growth

In 1984, a love of administrative work and a desire to grow her own business inspired Francine Guay to begin an injection mould company with her husband. Over the next 25 years, the company would develop and expand into Quebec, Europe, the United States and Brazil, with over 240 employees and factories in both Sherbrooke, Quebec and San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Today, M.I. Integration is a global leader in the manufacturing of injection molds and thermoplastic parts by injection for the highly competitive automobile industry, with Francine as President. Together, M.I. Integration and its 3 subsidiaries: Moules Industriels, Plastech and SLP M.I. Intégration stands out for its advanced expertise, creativity and ability to find effective solutions for complex design and overall performance needs. M.I. Integration won the prestigious 2015 Innovation Award from the Manufacturing category of the ADRIQ-CTN, namely the Association for the Development of Research and Innovation of Quebec (ADRIQ) and the Consultants in Technology and Innovation Network (CTN). In 2016, Francine also received the 2016 Desjardins Entrepreneur Award, in the Woman of Influence category and M.I. Integration was recognized by Deloitte as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.

Genevieve Hardy, President, Hardy Filtration Inc. – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Started by her father Rejean Hardy in 1993, Genevieve Hardy has successfully taken ownership of the well-established family business, Hardy Filtration. Genevieve transitioned into the role of President in 2018, but since her start as Executive Director in 2008, the company, specializing in the development, manufacturing and sales, of a large variety of filtration products, such as air filters, high efficiency filter (HEPA), dust collector bags, paint booth filters, and compressed air, has experienced tremendous growth and increased profitability. In 2015, Hardy was able to secure federal and provincial financial support for the acquisition of equipment that would facilitate the company’s expansion into international markets. Hardy Filtration was also named the 2017 winner of the PME Passport, an initiative that will enable to company to benefit from support to make their leap abroad. Genevieve’s outstanding leadership and dynamic business skills ensure that Hardy Filtration has a very promising, global future.

Vickie Joseph, President, Groupe 3737 and Nu.i – Community & Charitable Giving

Bio to come





Saint John Honourees

Jill Green, CEO, Green Imaging Technologies – Innovation & Global Growth

Jill Green has been able to utilize her experience in engineering and business to transport her company to new heights around the world. Green Imaging Technologies (GIT), the company that Jill started with her husband in 2006, specializes in using nuclear magnetic resonance equipment to evaluate rock samples for the oil and gas industry. While GIT is located in New Brunswick, the company quickly expanded to the international stage. From the United States to the Middle East and everywhere in-between, Jill’s products are used by some of the world’s largest oil companies to measure valuable rock and fluid properties. Green Imaging Technologies has been able to experience such phenomenal growth largely as a result of Jill’s ability to make worldwide connections. From engaging clients, partners and innovators, to supporting ongoing research at universities through annual contributions, Jill is able to stay relevant and important in such a massive global industry.

Dr. Peggy Bown, Owner, Peggy Bown Dentistry – Community & Charitable Giving

Dr. Peggy Bown, originally from Newfoundland, is a graduate of Dalhousie University and has been practicing dentistry in Saint John, New Brunswick since 2001. In 2015, she opened a modern and fully digital interdisciplinary clinic, with a renewed passion for creating the ultimate patient experience. Her practice includes a full range of services including General Dentistry, Invisalign, Cosmetic Dentistry, Full-mouth Rehabilitation, Root Canal Therapy, Implants, and Sleep Medicine. Dr. Bown has been a member of the 100 Women Who Care since its inception in 2013 and is currently the Canadian Ambassador for a world non-profit organization called the Humble Smile Foundation. She lectures to dentists across Canada on Cosmetic and Digital Dentistry and has served for both local and provincial dental societies. Dr. Bown is extremely passionate about dentistry and believes that her efficacious use of digital technology provides an invaluable benefit to both patient communication and treatment.

Sylvia MacVey, G.E. Barbour Inc. – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Ms. MacVey is the President and CEO of G.E. Barbour, a family-owned food processor. This year will mark its 150thyear of operations. Under her leadership, the company has expanded in the U.S. and invested in its Sussex plant to double its productivity of peanut and almond butter. Nut butter is now 80 per cent of the company’s business.



Saskatoon Honourees

Kayla & Kimberley Camboia, Co-owners, W Bridal – Curvy Couture – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Kayla and Kimberley Camboia have managed to grow their plus-size bridal boutique from just an idea to an overwhelming success. Operating in Saskatchewan, there was a large portion of brides-to-be being ignored by the bridal industry. The sisters decided to address this need by opening their own bridal boutique—W Bridals – Curvy Couture. Their boutique is unique for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it was the first of its kind to be opened in Canada. Since its opening in 2014, W Bridals – Curvy Couture has increased its revenue by 150% each year, as customers continue to travel far and wide for their services. Due to their dedication to helping serve and empower women of all shapes and sizes, the Camboia sisters have managed to introduce and operate a successful business that continues to grow to this day.

Laura Scrivener, Co-owner, Polar Refrigeration Service – Community & Charitable Giving

Laura Scrivener’s giving spirit and generous heart are just two of the many qualities that make her an outstanding individual. Laura is a long-time peace activist, and has devoted more than 25 years of her life to the pursuit of worldwide peace through the creation of international friendships. As one of the founding board members of Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV), Laura helps to teach young people around the world about cultural diversity, and encourages the creation of friendships across different cultures. As co-owner of Polar Refrigeration Service, Laura consistently donates both time and money—not only to CISV, but to many other organizations that aim to make the world a better place. For a company of eight people, Polar Refrigeration Services donates a significant level of resources to supporting causes around the world. Through example, Laura continuously demonstrates that we can all make a difference by contributing to our community and beyond.

Natasha Martynes, Owner, Marz Plumbing – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Natasha Martynes is a remarkable and young entrepreneur, who passionately believes that women should have a strong presence in the trade industry. Starting off as a plumber a number of years ago, Natasha decided that in order to better support women in the industry, she should open her own business. MARZ Plumbing, Natasha’s business venture, provides a full range of thorough and reliable plumbing solutions for a variety of clients. Not only does Natasha’s business provide reliable plumbing solutions to individuals and commercial clients across Central Saskatchewan, but, MARZ plumbing is dedicated to encouraging youth and women to get involved in the industry. Natasha understands firsthand the challenges and barriers that are often faced by women in the industry, which is why she has become such an advocate for women everywhere.

Vancouver Honourees

Annar Mangalji – Community and Charitable Giving

Annar’s giving nature and volunteerism developed at an early age, starting with her determination to help the Ugandan refugees settle in Canada in the early 1970s. Although only a teenager, she was front and centre in the relief effort. Her passion for helping others would lead her to pursue a degree in social work, and eventually find employment with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, managing the crisis centre and suicide hotline. Today, she owns and operates several dementia care homes in the United Kingdom. With all her success, Annar continues to find ways to support various charities around the world; and in Canada – the North Short Multicultural Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the BC Women’s Hospital. Annar’s generosity and compassion continues to develop as she takes on new projects and efforts. Always there for her friends, family, and anyone who needs a helping hand, Annar’s philanthropic nature helps make the world a better place.




Cathy Press, CEO, Chinook Helicopters Ltd. – Innovation & Global Growth

In her role as CEO of Chinook Helicopters Ltd., Cathy Press helps to inspire, create, and train some of the best helicopter pilots around the world. She took to flying at a young age, and quickly worked her way to becoming the first woman in Canada to acquire an instructor rating in helicopters. Since then, Cathy is currently the only person in Canada to hold “Transport Canada Pilot Examiner” status in both airplanes and helicopters. Cathy has helped grow Chinook Helicopters in size by more than 300%, and has worked to uphold their world-renowned reputation as the “Harvard of Training Programs.” From administering her flight school, to actually engaging in student flight instruction, Cathy’s diversified workload and dedication to excellence has helped to attract aspiring pilots from across the globe.


Tara Bosch, President, SmartSweets – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Tara is the founder of SmartSweets, where they are on a mission to kick sugar, and keep candy. Tara dropped out of university at 21 to begin recipe testing in her kitchen on a quest to innovate the first candy you can feel good about, launching nation-wide on store shelves less than a year later. Today, SmartSweets can be found in 3,500 doors across the U.S. and Canada, with retail and corporate partners including Whole Foods, Target, Google, and Facebook. SmartSweets has amassed a kick sugar social media community of 173,000+. SmartSweets has been featured in Forbes, Fox Business, dubbed ‘life-changing’ by PopSugar Magazine, and is the winner of several entrepreneurial awards including being named a 2017 Peter Thiel Fellow, Ryan Holmes 2016 “The Next Big Thing” Venture in Residence, 2017 BMO Celebrating Women, Expansion & Growth in Small Business, and Canadian Entrepreneur’s Top 20 under 23, among others.

Winnipeg Honourees

Barbara Bowes, President, Legacy Bowes Group – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

Barbara Bowes is a remarkable woman for so many different reasons. In 2006, Barbara decided to open her own business – Legacy Bowes Group. Starting from scratch, Barbara was able to transform her business into one of the most well-known HR recruitment firms in Winnipeg and Manitoba. Barbara’s idea-turned-reality has allowed her to complete successful searches for senior leadership roles, including president/CEO, VP, GM, and more, for a variety of companies in different sectors. Known for her professionalism, charm, and leadership abilities, Barbara leads by example in everything she does. Through her dedication and work ethic, Barbara is able to ensure that Legacy Bowes Group can offer local expertise, global reach, and a comprehensive range of recruitment, retention, and HR strategy services. As a highly regarded HR authority, author, and professional speaker, Barbara’s influence continues to grow, as do the size and capabilities of her self-started business.

Edna Nabess, Founder, Cree-Ations & Artist Showcase – Expansion & Growth in Small Business

As a child, Edna learned the basics of running her own business by working alongside her grandfather cleaning and filleting fish. Her mother would teach her to sew and make moccasins. These skills provided her with a solid foundation that enabled her to make a living as a business woman and provide for her five children. In 2007, Edna opened her own store in the Pas called White Feather Cree-Ations, selling her Aboriginal artwork and clothing designs. She would later expand and open a second store, Cree-Ations, located in Winnipeg, which included an Artist Showcase – a place for other Aboriginal crafters to display their work and sell their pieces. Today, Edna continues to design, but has handed over the daily operations of both stores to her sons, Rob and Keith, respectively. This allows Edna to focus on her other passion – working for the community. She actively participates in multiple charitable events, and mentors other Aboriginal women on how to be successful entrepreneurs.

Perla Javate, Community Liason Officer – Community & Charitable Giving

Perla Javate’s desire to give back to her community and those around her are just two of the many reasons why she is such a notable individual. Since immigrating to Canada in 1976 from the Philippines, Perla has worked as an advocate for the Filipino community. As the community liaison officer for the Winnipeg School Division, she also helps to lead and facilitate programs for youths, newcomers, women, and families. As the current president of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba, Perla is constantly coordinating events and activities to celebrate Philippine heritage in Canada. Additionally, as the president of Pinays Manitoba Inc., Perla aims to provide women with the resources to become resilient, confident, and strong in their own right. By continuously working to build the community around her and bringing people together, Perla’s charitable spirit shines through on a daily basis.

Milwaukee Honourees

Mary Burke, CEO and Founder, Building Brave – Women Who Inspire

Mary Burke is not only a businesswoman, but an inspirational philanthropist and social entrepreneur. Mary is CEO and Founder of Building Brave, an organization whose mission is for women to discover their most confident selves by connecting them to expert content and technology. Mary began her career as a consultant, and has held positions in private, public and non-profit sectors. She ran for Governor of Wisconsin in 2014 and was the first woman in Wisconsin history to win the nomination for Governor for a major party. Inspired by her experiences during the election, Mary decided to dedicate her career to helping women realize their full potential and starting her non-profit, Building Brave. Currently, Mary sits on the Board of the Burke Foundation, the Madison Board of Education and was a co-founder of the AVID/TOPS college preparation program.