Articles IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 2021 Women of Inspiration Award Recipients Announcement

The Universal Womens Network™ Announces the  2021 Women of Inspiration™ Award Recipients

Women Across Industries Recognized for “Raising the Bar” In Historic Year.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (Calgary, AB, November 14, 2021)  For the second year in a row since the pandemic, Monica Kretschmer, the powerhouse founder and CEO, Universal Womens Network™ (UWN) celebrated the achievements of women from diverse industries ages 12 – 100. As the heart of the UWN—the organization behind the important national awards event, Monica honoured a diverse collection of women of all ages from across industries driving change in their networks, workplaces and communities. Showing the passion and the resilience that she celebrates in other women, these awards elevate women to be seen, heard and valued. The result was stunning. Virtual WOI2021 Awards celebrating 150 finalists and awarding 45 awards in diverse categories. #WOI2021Raisethebar

Observers, nominees, and winners alike describe this year’s virtual event as powerful as well as empowering the movement to SupportHER™. Now in its seventh year, the Women of Inspiration™ Awards have recognized the achievements of over 1,000 women from diverse industries, and backgrounds.

“Universal Womens Network™ and Women of Inspiration™ Awards is about celebrating and elevating women along with SupportHER™ allies and awards partners (RBC, Raymond James Ltd., AMJ Campbell, HEXO Corp., Randstad Canada, SureCall, Mitacs, Banff Sunshine Village, Canada’s Valour Games, Turbo Images) committed to diversity, inclusion and equality across North America,” Kretschmer says with conviction, “Especially in 2021, emerging from the pandemic, another year full of struggles, tragedies and uncertainty. We recognized the achievements of women, who thrived throughout a year of unbridled change. A Women of Inspiration™ Award empowers women to step into the spotlight, to be heard, to lead and take action to Raise the Bar for all women. These women show us the possibilities, the future and the opportunities to inspire our youth and drive the change to break the “brick ceiling”. Our network embraces a culture of diversity, inclusion and equality and welcomes our SupportHER™ allies to the conversation to be a part of the solution. Every woman has a unique gift, her voice matters and contributes to the economy.”

Through the Women of Inspiration™ Awards, we see the impact of all women from diverse industries, walks of life, and ages recognized for their achievements, contribution to the economy, and impact around the world. They are everyday heroes, entrepreneurs, pilots, scientists, innovators, artists, healthcare, executives and visionaries from youth to lifetime achievement.

The 2021 ceremonies also included a tribute to a Woman of Inspiration™  whose leadership is recognized by the citizens of Canada.

“This year was especially meaningful as we honored Hazel McCallion, former Mayor of the City of Mississauga. As Canada’s longest-serving mayor, Hazel “Hurricane” McCallion led her city for 12 consecutive terms from 1978-2014 retiring at age 93. Hazel put Mississauga on the map. Born on February 14, 1921, Hazel turned 100 earlier this year. Businesswoman, philanthropist, and politician— it is and honour to celebrate Hazel McCallion. She’s an extraordinary leader who has empowered and inspired women of all ages,” Says Kretschmer.

When we celebrate one woman; we celebrate ALL women. These incredible women coming together is beautiful, powerful and inspiring.  This year, we celebrated all women, we saw each nominee step up and contribute, inspire others to lead, and show courage in the face of fear. It’s this ability to create an impact even in times of intense change that sees women carving the path forward.”

See Ripple Effect…. 17 Award recipients shared their experience about being recognized. See the end of the Press Release for inspiring words from 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Award recipients.

2021 Women of Inspiration™ Award Recipients:  Meet WOI Award Winner.

Tribute to Hazel McCallion – 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Lifetime Achievement

 Advocate and Catalyst for Change – Trish Guise, High Conflict Divorce Specialist

 Authentic Leader Awards

  • Andrea Linger – Associate Vice President, Practice Management, and Head of the Women Canadian Advisors Network, Raymond James Ltd.
  • Fatima Israel – Head of Brand, Marketing and Communications, EY Canada
  • Heather Lochnan – Head of Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Ottawa Hospital
  • Kayla Isabelle – CEO, Startup Canada
  • Laura Didyk – Vice President, Client Diversity, BDC
  • Marcela Lay – Senior Vice President, Head of Client Strategy and PMO,  Y Media Labs
  • Payal Puri – Senior Director, Technology Adoption, Loblaw Companies Limited
  • Stephanie Leheta – Assistant Vice President, Customer Experience, Canadian Tire Bank
  • Victoria Nguyen – Vice President, Project Delivery, Alternate & Retail Solutions, Capital Markets, CIBC

 Black Women Leader Award – Evangeline Chima, Founder, Black Mentorship Inc.

 Customer Experience Award – Eldeen Pozniak, President, Pozniak Safety Associates Inc.

 Cultural Ambassador Award  – Patti Jannetta – Founder and President, JANATA Entertainment Group.

 Difference Maker Award – Dr. Smita Pakhale, Clinician-Scientist  and Founder, Bridge Engagement Center (The Bridge)

 Diversity and Inclusiveness Award presented by Randstad Canada – Katherine (Katie) Dudtschak, Executive Vice President, Regional Banking, Personal and Commercial Banking, RBC

 Dream Builder Award presented by AMJ Campbell – Jennifer Green, Director of Competitions and Young Women’s Initiative,  Skills Ontario

 Economic Empowerment Award – Sonya Shorey –, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Collaboration, Bayview Yards and Area X.O Invest Ottawa

 Game Changer Award – Suzie Yorke – Founder and Board Member, Love Good Fats

 Health and Wellness Award – Amber Zenith – Co-Founder, HIGH Fitness

 Indigenous Leader Award presented by HEXO Corp. – Jennifer Ménard-Shand- Founder and CEO | Director, Client Happiness, Staff Shop Inc.

 Influencer Award – Vahen King – Founder, Going Farther

 Integrity Award – Rose Marie Gage – Founder and Principal of Great Governance Matters and MPOWRU, Independent Board Director

 Immigrant Leader Award – Ariyike Akinbobola – Senior Business Immigration Analyst, Fragomen

 Innovation Award – Sarah Jordan, CEO, Mastermind Toys

 Mentorship Award – Erin Bigney – Director Research, Canada East Spine Division

 Millennial Leader – Charlie Wall-Andrews – Executive Director, SOCAN Foundation

 Nest Award presented by Banff Sunshine Village – Koleya Karringten, CEO Absolute Combustion

 Raising the Bar Award – Helen Filipe – Founder and Executive Director, Azul Education Services

 Rising Leader Award – Rebeca McLaren –Founder, Polemicial Zine

 Rural Leader Award – Kara Alicia Kennish – Third Generation Tim Hortons Franchise, Owner

 Social Impact Award – Meseret Haileyesus, Founder, Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment

 SupportHER™ Award – Chantal and Brian Milloy, Co-Founders, Levvel Inc.

 Trailblazer (STEM) Award presented by Mitacs – Jaime Leverton, CEO, Hut 8 Mining Corp.

 Transformational Leader Award

  • Christine Dagenais – Founder and CEO, Bright Wire Leadership
  • Theano Evangelou – Personal Development Expert, Relationship Doctor, Theano Inc.

 Vision Builder Award – Phoebe Wasfy, Principal, Philopateer Christian College

 Women-Led Award presented by SureCall Robin Kovitz, President and CEO, Baskits Inc.

 Women in Media Award –Tracie Gray, Professional Broadcaster

Youth Excellence Award presented by RBC

  • Olivia Day, Multi-Sport and Super G Racer
  • Zafina Zaman, Youth Motivational Speaker

More about the Universal Womens Network™

The Universal Womens Network™ is a global platform committed to advancing gender equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). We strategically partner with organizations committed to gender diversity and recognize the achievements of women through Women of Inspiration™ Awards across North America. We are advocates of Universal Women-Owned™ and Universal Women-Led™ businesses, and champion female entrepreneurs along with allies who SupportHER™.

The ripple effect….words from 17 Women of Inspiration™ Award Recipients

Supporting women in business, in our community and in our families has always been part of our DNA, and when we founded Levvel, naturally that was at the heart of how we ran the business. So being honoured together with the SupportHER Award, as partners in business and life, is a true confirmation that what we do every day is making a difference for women. Chantal and Brian Milloy – Co-founders, Levvel Inc. | Women of Inspiration™ 2021 SupportHER™ Award

Women of Inspiration and their theme Women Driving Change in 2021 that culminated in our Best Selling book on Amazon from 100 women of Inspiration lead by Monica is an amazing organization. I am so proud to be honoured for a Global Impact Award as an entrepreneur for my tech start-ups and innovations and inventions in AI, security and emergency messaging. It is humbling to be honoured among these incredible women. Dr. Suhayya (Sue) Abu-Hakima, Co-Sounder/CEO Alstari | Women of Inspiration™ 2021 Global Impact Award

Winning the Authentic Leader award has been a surreal experience! Being acknowledged for my contributions to my community and to my firm has validated my efforts to continuing to ensure that women have a voice, that they are seen and that they are heard. I feel very honoured to be in the company of so many extraordinary Women of Inspiration award recipients! Andrea Linger – Associate Vice President and Head of the Womens Canadian Advisory Network | Women of Inspiration™ 2021 Global Impact Award

I am incredibly honoured and grateful to have met so many visionary leaders through the Universal Women’s Network™ and receive the 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Economic Empowerment Award. It has been a privilege to collaborate closely with many regional, national, and global partners on a critical objective: to help enable and accelerate the growth and success of women founders, owners, and leaders. It will take sustained collaborative action with critical mass to move this critical dial, and facilitate greater access to the investment, resources, and opportunities required to advance women entrepreneurs. Here in Ottawa, we strive to help catalyze the first woman-owned and led $100 million company in Canada’s Capital. I share this award with all partners who are driving consistent action and progress towards these shared goals. It is a testament to the power of collaboration. Sonya Shorey, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Collaboration, Invest Ottawa, Bayview Yards and Area X.O | Women of Inspiration™ Economic Empowerment Award

I am incredibly honoured to receive the “Innovation Award” and to be recognized as a “Woman of Inspiration” by the Universal Womens Network led by Monica Kretschmer. It is a privilege to be leading Canada’s Authority on Play, a beloved Canadian brand that is the global leader in toys and retailing.  It is a pinch me moment to be recognized as an innovative leader in a trend-based industry during a time when retailers must lead the way in transformation. I want to thank the Mastermind Toys team, from our stores, warehouse, and head office, for believing in our vision and co-creating with me throughout our brand transformation journey. Innovation and insights come from all our Play Experts coast-to-coast, and this recognition wouldn’t be possible without your customer obsession and commitment to deliver wonder in all our experiences – in our stores, online or curbside. Thank you, Monica, for celebrating thousands of women over the past years and for lifting women up and inviting us all to raise the bar. Sarah Jordan, CEO, Mastermind Toys | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Innovation Award

The entire process from nomination to winning a 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Award provided me an amazing opportunity to reflect on my passions, what has inspired me, my accomplishments and most importantly on the incredible people in my life. Thank you for recognizing me alongside phenomenal women who are Raising the Bar for courage, strength, innovation, empathy and leadership! Thank you, Monica and the team, for an outstanding event that I will treasure forever. Helen Filipe – Executive Director, Azul Education Services | Women of Inspiration™ Difference Maker Award

I am honored and humbled to receive the Women of Inspiration 2021 Authentic Leader Award. I shared the stage with so many amazing women across many walks of life. Each has a unique inspiring story that encompassed courage, compassion, resiliency, impact and a genuine drive to propel women. Congratulations to fellow nominees, finalists, and award recipients. Together we raise the bar and make a difference! Thank you, Universal Womens Network™ founder Monica Kretschmer, for the unconditional energy and passion in establishing this platform. Payal Puri – Senior Director, Technology Adoption, Loblaw Companies Limited | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader Award

Monica, thank you for creating the UWN and the Women of Inspiration™ Award. This has been a tremendous and cathartic experience. I held a mini gala party yesterday evening with all of my closest friends, family and the women who inspire me the most and who contributed to this honour with their reference letters. I learned a beautiful lesson from you during this process and that is my stepping into the spotlight, I set the stage for other women to do so in the future. This really resonated with me, especially as a mother with a daughter It was such a lovely evening having my parents, husband, daughter, friends, and their partners together in a room watching, reflecting, and celebrating all of the wonderful women and SupportHER’s who won awards. You should be incredibly proud of this important platform you have built that will carry on for years, amplifying the voices and achievements of women in the past, present, and future! Thank you for your courage, empowering spirit and inspiration! !  Stephanie Leheta – Assistant Vice President, Customer Experience, Canadian Tire Bank | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader Award

 This has been an incredible experience from the pride of being nominated to the shock of winning! Thank you to the Universal Womens Network™ for bringing so many diverse women and their successes into the spotlight. I’m honoured to be included in this exceptional group of women. Erin Bigney – Director Research, Canada East Spine Division | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Mentorship Award

 As the recipient of the Women of Inspiration™ Vision Builder Award, I can’t be more excited about such an amazing recognition. As an Educational Leader, I aspire to make a continuous and real change in the lives of my students. Have a vision and a goal, set it in front of you and in God’s hand and do your best to make it happen!  Thank you once again for this honour that I will cherish. Phoebe Wasfy, Principal Philopateer Christian College | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Vision Builder Award

 It’s an honour and privilege to be recognized as a woman of inspiration! Organizational bias still exists throughout corporate Canada. It’s in our hiring departments, credit adjudication and just about everywhere. That’s why organizations like the Universal Womens Network™ are so important. By shining a spotlight on the achievements of the minority and people in nontraditional roles, we can continue breaking down bias and barriers and creating more opportunities for the next generation to build a society based on meritocracy which truly values and embraces diversity.” Robin KovitzCEO , Baskits Inc. | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Women-Led Award

The Universal Womens Network™ is an incredible organization that supports empowers and celebrates women founders, entrepreneurs, and trail blazers. I can attest to how meaningful this group is as I started my own company at age 50. Monica is herself a phenomenal force and woman to celebrate also. The Awards gala last night was so well done, so inspiring—I can’t wait to have the chance to do this in person in the future. Suzie Yorke, Founder and Board Director, Love Good Fats | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Game Changer Award

The Women of Inspiration™ Award is exciting, humbling and an honour. Thank you to those who believed in me and that saw the potential that I could make a difference in the world. That passion and resiliency can make an impact in our environment, whether we know the full extent or not. Recognition is so much bigger than me. It’s an opportunity to provide positive influence and a chance to learn, grow and be motivated. Thank you to all the people who supported me on my path to receive this award. it’s not just my achievement; it’s theirs, too. Jennifer Green, Director of Competitions and Young Women’s Initiative, Skills Ontario | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Dream Builder Award

Thank you Universal Womens Network™. I am honoured and blessed to be on this journey with so many talented and inspiring women. Cheers to moving forward together, and to living by my favorite C.S. Lewis quote; “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.  Jennifer Menard Shand – 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Indigenous Leader Award

I am humbled by Deborah Arsenault’s nomination, the many awesome people who wrote recommendations and to be awarded the “integrity award”. Monica, hearing the award introduction, I was in shock when you called my name! What a remarkable recognition for my life’s passion in working with others! I look forward to ensuring that others have the same opportunity in the future. Thank you Monica and all the many others who make this possible for us all. I look forward to working with the other recipients to keep sharing! Rose Marie Gage Founder and Principal of Great Governance Matters and MPOWRU, Independent Board Director | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Integrity Award

The 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Awards was a life altering experience. To be part of such a collective group of inspiring women, who gather to not only share their stories, but to celebrate each other and rise as a collective was the soul igniting. The energy and power that is behind Monica and the team at UWN was absolutely outstanding. I was glued to the stage from the beginning to end. Theano Evangelou – Personal Development Expert, Relationship Doctor, Theano Inc.| 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Transformational Leader Award

What a rush! What an honour, I’m overwhelmed with love & it is the greatest feeling.  Thank you for believing in me. This award & the love & support behind it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. Tracey Gray- Broadcast Professional – 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Women in Media Award

I am extremely happy to receive this prestigious award. It is nothing less than an absolute honor, and I must admit it took me aback. I am grateful for being recognized and I intend to live up to the level of success this award demands. Meseret Haileyesus Founder, Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Social Impact Award

Being recognized for my work as an advocate and catalyst for change is incredible validation of my mission to restructure the way our Canadian family legal system handles  family conflict and abuse. I see this award as an opportunity to spotlight how the current system dismantles families and re-traumatizes victims.  Trish Guise – High Conflict Divorce Strategist | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Advocate and Catalys for Change Award

As woman who’s also a person with a disability, I’m honored to receive this Women of Inspiration award. It is my passion to challenge men and women of ALL abilities to see past their self perceived limits and go farther than they ever thought possible.  So to be awarded the “Influencer Award” acknowledges that my passion is more than just a dream I hope to accomplish, but it’s my lived reality! Thank you Monica, the Women of Inspiration and Universal Womens Network™ for creating a place for women of diversity & inspiration to celebrate each other. Vahen King – Founder, Going Farther | 2021 Women of Inspiration™ Influencer Award

Article Written by

Monica Kretschmer

Monica is the Founder and CEO of Universal Womens Network™, Women of Inspiration™ Awards, Women of Inspiration™ Podcast, Women of Inspiration™ Book, UWomen Magazine, and SupportHER™ champion for women in their networks, workplaces, and communities.

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