Dear WBN members, 

We’ve nearly made it to the end of 2020. One of the most challenging years I think we are likely to face in our lifetimes. This pandemic has disrupted our workplaces, lives and businesses in ways we could have never imagined. No one is experiencing business as usual. As the world started to shut down, we, as women, continued to work, to manage our businesses, care for our children, parents, loved ones, while balancing self-care, and healthy meals.

This year made one thing clear: the importance of community and resilience.

Communities provide support, understanding, togetherness. My hope is that during these challenging times, you have found a community within the WBN. A space for you to learn, be challenged, and to feel safe. And a sense of validation that your experience was shared with other members. Although we aren’t meeting together in person this year, in a way, we feel closer than ever.

Update on our Strategic Plan 

A few months ago, we kicked off our AMM with some lofty goals. We aimed to grow our membership through strategic acquisition of new members​. We wanted to improve the retention and engagement of existing members. We set out to increase sponsorship opportunities and partners to secure the WBN’s future. And lastly, we set a goal to develop a marketing and social media strategy to effectively use our resources​. WBN members, I’m happy to report that, in spite of the pandemic, we are well on our way.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen some exciting changes to our organization. I would like to provide you with an update on how we’ve been progressing over the past few months.

Welcome to our new Members

We’ve welcomed a diverse group of new members these past few months. A very warm welcome to these ladies:

Lindsay Sara, Whole Health Therapy

Eleni Burrell, Senior Consultant at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Jill Fratpietro, CEBS, Senior Account Executive, Employee Benefits at Canada Life

Geraldine Dixon, Business Development Manager at Chartwell Retirement Residences

Jennifer Burns, Benefit Plans Expert with David Burns & Associates

Alanna Grace, Process Improvement Analyst at Canopy Growth Corporation

Marie-Josee Peladeau, Account Executive at BrokerLink

Donna-Lea Bowman, Bonar Institute Senior Associate

Jacqueline Belsito, Vice President of Philanthropy and Community Engagement at CHEO Foundation

Lydia Blanchard, Director of Community Engagement at CHEO Foundation

Lissa Appiah, Certified Career Strategist

Chelvi Pandian, Medical Practitioner and Director

Aisha Paul, Programming and Events Professional

Feruz Dglel Tesfay, Founder and President of Sprott Social Impact Club (SSIC)

Our membership committee is busy working to make sure everyone feels connected and a part of our community. Our membership numbers are remaining relatively stable, especially considering we are moving through a pandemic. I believe this is a strong testament to the work of the membership committee who are proactively connecting with our members. As well, our events committee who are working to create relevant and tailored programming with unique experiences and opportunities to network in an environment that mimics more traditional networking to offer an intimate human connection. Last year, in our membership survey, we learned that 61% of our members were referred by a colleague or friend. To reward these members who are promoting us in their circles, we’ll be launching a referral program in the coming weeks!

Now, more than ever, we are leaning on the support of our sponsors. As an organization, it is important to us that we remain accessible to the businesswomen in our community during this pandemic to support those who need us most. As such, the majority of our events continue to be complimentary. To sustain our operations, we are working with WBN member Christine LeBlanc of Dossier Communications and Monica Boudreau of Posh Media to develop an attractive sponsorship package.

If you or someone in your network believes in supporting, empowering, and promoting businesswomen, please reach out to our Executive Director Soula Burrell to learn more about opportunities to support our community.

We are happy to report that since Posh Media took over our social media this fall, we’ve seen more engagement, greater reach, more impressions and more followers. WBN member Monica Boudreau and her team at Posh Media are levelling up the WBN this year! Take a look:

  • LINKEDIN: In only three short months, the WBN’s professional page has generated a 6.5% engagement rate, well above the industry average of 3%.
  • FACEBOOK: In Q3, we’ve observed the reach (users who saw posts at least once) sky-rocket with the newly introduced theme “Friday Features.”
  • TWITTER: Since implementing posh media’s social media strategy, our monthly tweet impressions has seen a 163% increase from August 2020 to November 2020.
  • INSTAGRAM: Since partnering with posh media, we’ve seen a 15% increase in follower growth despite introducing two different brand colours to our audience.

A Heartfelt Thank You

As a final note to end 2020, I believe it should be one of gratitude. To our board of directors and volunteers on the Mentorship, Gala, Nominations, Events, Membership committee; to the people who have been with us for years and the ones who have just joined us recently, I want to say thank you for your commitment to building a better community for us all. It’s your dedication that has enabled us to get to where we are today. You are truly our greatest asset. It’s your teamwork, diligence, creativity, and resilience that make this organization better every day. I couldn’t be prouder of the work you’ve done and the difference you’re making.

To Jenny Chen, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Victoria Stewart, Vice President of Operations for being my right-hand women and showing so much initiative; to Taylor Langevin, Corporate Secretary, for her attention to detail; to Jennifer Baldwin, Corporate Treasurer for keeping our finances in line and on budget; thank you to Soula Burrell, Executive Director for managing the day-to-day operations.

Thank you to Harminder Kaur, Chair of Events, and the Events Committee for all your creative event ideas this year! Thank you to Amy Barker, Vice Chair, and committee members Alanna Campbell, Aisha Camille, Alex Keenan, Angeline Cacciato, Ariadni Athanassiadis, Catherine Bennett, Corrie Cassalman, Michelle LeBlanc, and Mira Yasiri.

Thank you to Deborah Bard, Chair of Gala, and the Gala Committee for your resilience and agility in pivoting this years’ event and a very successful Finalists Reception! Thank you Judith Scott, Vice Chair and Committee Members: Mary Breton, Linda Cousineau, Shirley Curley, Kathy McIntyre, Basia Ruta.

Thank you to Darlene Kelly, Chair of Nominations and Shelbi Dippold who make up the Nominations Committee. Thank you for taking on the task of improving the Nominations process.

Thank you to Wendy Mason, Chair of Membership, and the Membership Committee for your energy and proactive outreach to connect with our members. Thank you to Dina Beaudoin, Vice Chair and committee members Gile Beaudoin, Lisa Siragusa, Amy Barker, Karen McNamara, Alison Kelly-Quesnel, Jacqueline Richards, Ruth Lewis-Trach, Sarah Sanderson, Tracey Parslow, Ann Max, Christina Nesrallah, Maureen Donoghue, Mira Yasiri.

Thank you to Laura Tippett, Chair of Mentorship and the Mentorship Committee for your dedication to helping women reach their professional goals. Thank you to Niya Voycheva and Hailey Hetchman. 

A heartfelt thank you to our sponsors who have truly made this year possible. Thank you for your generous support.

PWL, Nancy Graham

BMO Financial Group, Kate Scarlett

BAKERTILLY, Rosa Iuliano

CIBC, Andrew Phillips

Daniel Fernandes Law Firm, Daniel Fernandes

GGFL, Margot Sunter

BLG, Katherine Cooligan

CIBC, Leslie McKay

I’m so proud to be a member of this community, a community that celebrates women, connects women, and elevates them.

I wish you all a healthy and safe holiday season surrounded by those you love (but not too many!). Here’s to new beginnings in 2021!

Abbie Sizer, President