Articles 2023 Women of Inspiration Awards – Winners Announced

The Women of Inspiration™ Awards program spotlights extraordinary leaders from all sectors of our economy across North America.

Each of our Awardees has demonstrated the SupportHER™ culture’s advocacy for women. What we are finding is that women witnessing other women rise inspires other women to connect, learn, empower and celebrate.

Who is a Woman of Inspiration?

A Woman of Inspiration™ is your mother, sister, aunt and grandmother. She is your co-worker, your mentor, your trainee and your superior.

  • These women are leaders, changemakers and role models—we leaders (women and men) in positions of power to inspire change.
  • They may be ordinary, but they are doing extraordinary things. They deserve to be recognized.
  • They know your story does not define you; it empowers you. Women of Inspiration don’t wait for opportunities; they create them. They have grit and tenacity and know their worth.
  • They are willing to take the road less travelled, even if they travel alone. They stand up for what they believe.
  • They empower those around them and unapologetically take up space and dream big.

Recent studies by the World Economic Forum have cited that we are 100 years behind in achieving equality. To achieve parity, we encourage women to lead, invite our allies to the conversation, inspire action to break barriers, stand up for what they believe in, and raise the bar for women to succeed personally and professionally. We must continue to celebrate the achievements of women at all levels. This year, we celebrate Women of Inspiration™ across Canada and the USA. Our awardees share a common thread. They are leaders inspiring change.

We are thrilled to recognize the achievements of women and SupportHER allies committed to advancing women in business to realize and reach their full potential.






  • Chloe Dubois, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Ocean Legacy Foundation
  • Dr. Sally Zhao, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Immigrant Education Society
  • Parul Dua Makkar, Dentist and Owner of PDM Family Dental
  • Esther Ijewere, Founder of Woman of Rubies
  • Heather McWilliam, Founder and CEO of Brave Inspires Brave
  • Katlyn Kotila, Co-Founder of Northern Ontario Pride Connection.
  • Sonna Shah, CEO & Founder, My Private Professor
  • Valpresious Ham-Davis, Co-Owner and Executive Director of Flowers Education


  • Alanna Fonseca, Vice President, Marketing and Innovation for North America at Cronos Group Inc.
  • Chandra Donelson, Chief Data Officer and AIrtifical Intelligence Officer at United States Air Force
  • Erinn Piller, Head of Business Marketing at TikTok Canada
  • Gina Izumi, Senior Vice President of Sales at SAP Canada Growth Markets
  • Helen Mix, Vice President, People, at Boardwalk REIT
  • Jaime Raymond, Security Manager, Oxford Properties at Square One Shopping Centre
  • Natalie Holloway, Vice President of Insights, Strategy & Transformation at Danone Canada
  • Rebecca Pang, Vice President of Treasury Solutions at the RBC
  • Sharon Grehan, Executive Director of Business Strategy & Operations /Global Lead for Women at Gilead Sciences


  • Diana Cuervo, Principal at Blackstone and Portfolio Manager
  • Lauren Castelino, Executive Director at Green Career Centre
  • Michelle Gibson-Morgan, Senior Manager at Pathways
  • Sanchari Se Rai, Co-Founder & CEO of ECC Hive and Education Consultants Canada


  • Anna Hiberry, Wealth Management Advisor and Portfolio Manager at National Bank Financial
  • Jonathan Durocher, President of National Bank Financial Wealth Management
  • Eric Maffert, Senior Marketing Director at Danone Canada
  • Marie-Eve Lemieux-Roy, Director of Scale and Shopper Marketing at Danone Canada
  • Dr. Narine Dat Sookram, Clinical Private Practice as a Social Worker Psychotherapist
  • Dean Davidson, Designer and Owner, Dean Davidson
  • D.O. Gibson – Rapper, Motivational Speaker


  • DELL Technologies – Pamela Pelletier, Country Lead and Managing Director, DELL Technologies, on behalf of DELL Technologies.


  • Candice Hardie, Vice President of Client Experience at DNA Communications.
  • Farhana Mahbub, Diversity and Inclusion Award Presented by DELL Technologies
  • Patrice de Peiza, Special Projects Manager for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism at Ontario Health
  • Mihae Ahn, Vice President of Marketing at ProServeIT Corporation


  • Angelica Goncalves, Consultant, Ellis Don and Podcast Host
  • Elyse Welch, Partner at Carolina Retail Experts
  • Lindsey Halter, Partner at Carolina Retail Experts
  • Ruth Alexander, Licensed Realtor & Founder at RARE Group with Coldwell Banker Mountain Central


  • Hannah Isenberg, Owner and operator of House of Gemini Productions and Hive Marketing Agency
  • Ramya Kapadia, Artistic Director, Natyarpana School of Dance & Music


  • Jennifer Lipkowitz – Publisher, Living Luxe Magazine


  • Ashley Ottesen – Actor, Social Media Influencer


  • Alexandra Cattoni, Founder and CEO of the Copy Posse


  • Lisa Studnicki Hunt, Co-Founder and COO of GL Chemtec International


  • Anita Bhandari, Chief Human Resources Officer for the City of Burnaby


  • Suhayya (Sue) Abu-Hakima, Co-Founder and CEO of Alstari Corporation

YOUTH EXCELLENCE AWARD Presented by National Bank Financial – Hilberry Wealth Management

  • Roberta Battaglia – Canadian singer, songwriter and actress


  • Adejisola Atiba, People Manager at Royal Bank of Canada
  • Deborah Arsenault, Head of H.R. in the Region of Peel
  • Jane McCormick, Managing Director at McCormick Consulting Group Limited
  • Jennifer Walker, Financial Planner and Partner at Carruthers Walker Financial
  • Karen Bannister, Vice President of Marketing at Centurion Asset Management Inc
  • Laura Desveaux, Scientific Director and Founder of Trillium Health Partners and Women Who Lead
  • Niru Prasad, Retired Physician
  • Olaitan Onyebuoha – Founder and Principal Consultant, 7th Laurel Immigration Consulting Inc.


  • Jabeen Boga, Human Resource Instructor and Business Partner at Ashton College
  • Meghan Monk, Director of Business Specialists at Sysco
  • Oyindamola (Oyin) Isaac, Lead Payroll & Benefits Specialist at G.E. and Founder and CEO of African Canadian Weddings
  • Raveena Kohli, Practice Lead, Organizational Change Management at Bristlecone
  • Yana Peregudina, Director and Owner, Process Management Analyst at, Toyota Canada Inc.


  • Katina Papulkas, Senior Education Strategist, Dell Technologies
  • Serena Chan, Partner at The Capital Markets Company Limited (Capco)
  • Margo Storey, Senior Manager, Extraction and Separation at Cronos Group Inc.
  • Nardin Samuel, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Cove Neurosciences Inc.


  • Catherine Bell, CEO and Founder of The Awakened Company
  • Danielle Millman, President of Otter Learning.
  • Sue Finkham, Founder and CEO of Firestarter and Mayor of Carmel
  • Tracy F. Barry, Founder and CEO of GROW Women Leaders


  • Laura Silver, CEO of Blue Door Agency
  • Sharon Bonner, CEO & Founder of the Bright Ideas Event Agency
  • Marcie Kiziak, Chief Executive Officer at Nova Cannabis
  • Anna DiBella, CEO & Founder of ProFix Accounting & Strategy
  • Stephanie Dinsmore, Clinical Director and Business Owner at Mindful Path Counselling
  • Marjorie Dixon, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) Founder, CEO & Medical Director at Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health
  • Christine Faulhaber, Founder and CEO of Faulhaber Communications
  • Nkechi Sarah Ahanor-Wilson, Founder of the House of CACOSA Inc
  • Natasha Elizabeth Feghali, Founder and CEO of Feghali Group Inc and FGI Family Homes


  • Bobbi Brown – Beauty Industry Titan, Founder and CCO of Jones Road Beauty
  • Steven D. Plofker – Real Estate Developer, Co-Founder, Jones Road Beauty

NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 2024 – Deadline to Nominate – June 1. Deadline to submit Nomination Packages – June 15.

  • Women of Inspiration
  •  SupportHER (male allie)
  • Top Company – Equity, Diversity, Inclusion SupportHER Champion


TESTIMONIALS – 2023 Women of Inspiration Awards – April 4, 2024

As a designer of women’s jewelry, I am inspired by the remarkable women I’ve encountered on my journey. Their stories and spirits infuse every piece I create, shaping me as an artist.

Participating in the Women of Inspiration™ Award was more than an event; it was a celebration of the achievements of women who have paved the way for others. To be honoured as a SupportHER™ myself was a truly humbling experience.

The Universal Women’s Networks mission deeply resonates with me, and I am thrilled to unite with this organization to create a platform that not only recognizes but also celebrates the extraordinary achievements of women worldwide. Dean Davidson, Designer, Owner, Dean Davidson, 2023 Women of Inspiration™ SupportHER Award

My husband Steven and I were honored to be part of the Women of Inspiration™ Awards program,” said Bobbi Brown, founder and CCO of Jones Road Beauty and a Women of Inspiration™ Icon Award winner.  “The Universal Womens Network™ mission is to celebrate the achievements of women who lead, inspire, and motivate each other.  They also understand that anyone who is successful rarely gets there alone. My husband Steven has been my partner in both business and life. Without him, I wouldn’t have achieved all the success I’ve had. Thank you to the Universal Womens Network for recognizing both Steven and I and for spotlighting the allies who rally around successful women and take pride in their success. Bobbi Brown – 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Icon Award and Steven D. Plofker, Women of Inspiration™ SupportHER Award

It’s exciting and inspiring to meet that many amazing human beings in one setting. The women were awesome! From scientists to medical specialists, singers, dancers, artists, finance specialists and more. Every one of them was incredible in their own right. I came away feeling empowered. Anna Hilberry – Portfolio Manager, National Bank Financial, Hilberry Wealth Management Group – 2023 Women of Inspiration™ SupportHER Award

Simply humbling to be in the midst of such accomplished and inspiring women across industries within North America! Celebrating the successes of women and the SupportHER™ men will universally drive the change we need to create an equitable future. Congratulations to all the award recipients – your continued accomplishments will serve as a beacon of hope for so many others. Victoria Nguyen, ICD.D Vice President, Direct Financial Services-Simplii Operations, CIBC Capital Markets, 2020 Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader

The Women of Inspiration Award Gala was an incredible celebration of female empowerment and achievement. I was very inspired by the remarkable stories and accomplishments we heard from the various women and “SupportHERs” tonight. I also just had a really great time at our Roche table where we had an amazing blend of some of our most senior leaders as well as some very early in their career colleagues, all very different women, but all equally inspiring. Brigette Nolet- President and CEO, Roche Canada Pharma Supporting other women is so crucial. I think we as female leaders bring many unique and powerful qualities to the table – empathy, courageous authenticity, the power to inspire..  and when we lift each other up & show support, we create a network of support and opportunity. Together, we can break barriers, challenge stereotypes, and pave the way for future generations of female leaders. Brigette Nolet- President and CEO, Roche Canada Pharma

At Gilead Sciences, we set – and achieve – bold ambitions to create a healthier world for all people. From our pioneering virology medicines to our growing impact in oncology, we’re delivering innovations once thought impossible in medicine. As we develop innovative medicines for life-threatening diseases, we recognize it takes more than medicine to improve wellbeing for people around the world.  We know we are a stronger company and that innovation flourishes when we are informed by a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences and points of view. Our Women at Gilead employee resource group focuses on enhancing gender equity for women in opportunities and experiences at all levels.

We are incredibly proud to be a sponsor for the Women of Inspiration™  Awards which recognizes the achievements of women who lead, inspire and motivate others. We are delighted to have some of our own leaders recognized through these awards – Sharon Grehan, PhD for her authentic leader award and Shelly Smith, MBA as a finalist among strong female leaders across North America. Sharon Grehan –Executive Director of Business Strategy & Operations /Global Lead for Women at Gilead Sciences, 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader Award

It was an honour to be recognized amongst so many women role models who leverage their influence and positions to inspire change.  Thank you, Universal Womens Network™ for leading the way and providing the format and opportunity to celebrate, while also continuing to advance women’s agenda across North America. For me it was extra special to be surrounded by my family and see three generations of women together who truly inspire each other. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share that moment with them. #AspireHigher Gina Izumi – Senior Vice President, SAP Canada – 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader Award.

It was a magical night. I felt surrounded by the embodiment of inspiration all around me. Amazing stories from every person I talked to. Winning the Women of Inspiration BIPOC Award is special to me because it recognizes the effort that not just I, but also other women have put in the advance the success of diverse women everywhere. Diana Cuervo, Principal at Blackstone and Portfolio Manager, 2023 Women of Inspiration™ BIPOC Leader Award

As a proud recipient of the Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader Award, I must express my sincere gratitude for the unforgettable gala experience – From the splendid performances to the insightful interview with Bobbi Brown, every detail of the night was meticulously crafted, ensuring a memorable evening. Receiving the Authentic Leadership award was a humbling honor, and the opportunity to network with fellow remarkable women and winners was truly inspiring. I deeply appreciate the inspiring work of the Universal Women Network™ over the years, uplifting and empowering all of us to greater heights. Rebecca Pang- RBC, Vice President – Treasury Solutions – 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader Award

I’m very honoured to be recognized with a 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Award, and to share this award with my amazing network of support that includes my family, friends, mentors, and colleagues. My entire experience, throughout the nomination process to receiving this honour from the Universal Women’s Network, has been one of the most humbling, rewarding achievements of my career that I’ll never forget. I’m proud to now be a part of the UWN’s extraordinary and diverse alumni of winners and look forward to connecting with more Women of Inspiration in the future. Alanna Fonesca – Vice President, Marketing and Innovation for North America at Cronos Group Inc., 2023Women of Inspiration™ Authentic Leader Award

I am deeply humbled to be recognized as a 2023 Woman of Inspiration. My journey began in a small town in Northern Ontario driven by an unwavering passion for creating a world where everyone can thrive authentically. Being acknowledged on an international level and connecting with accomplished women and SupportHERS across industries at this extraordinary gala event was an opportunity beyond my wildest dreams. While this recognition will allow me to elevate my advocacy and non-profit work to new heights, this award is not just for me; it’s a celebration of the community that has supported me every step of the way and of the boundless potential within all of us. Thank you so much for the wonderful experience! I had an incredible time celebrating with you and the rest of the Women of Inspiration™ this past weekend. Katlyn Kotila (Founder of the Northern Ontario Pride Connection) – 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Advocate & Catalyst for Change Award

Being celebrated as a woman in business is something that I have promoted and encouraged for many years.  However, being said woman was a new experience for me.  Thank you for turning the spotlight on me.  The awards gala was pure joy, watching women of so many ages and stages in careers and life be celebrated together.  When my turn came to step onto that stage, I was empowered and lifted by the energy and celebration. I am still floating on that feeling, and plan to share it with many others. Jennifer Walker, CFP, CEBS, CHS, RIS, MFA-P, Partner – Carruthers Walker Financial, 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Inspire Award

I’m tremendously honoured to be recognized with a WOI Legend award at the April 4th gala. It is wonderful to have an organization such as the Universal Women’s Network supporting women entrepreneurs and recognizing my hard work in our two AI startups that we exited to NASDAQ traded companies. My just released book on my journey is intended to give back and support startups through my hard lessons learned. Dr. Suhayya Abu-Hakima – Founder and CEO, Alstari Corporation – Women of Inspiration™ Legend Award

What an epic award gala! I feel extremely privileged that I am one of the winners in the Trailblazer (STEM) category for the 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Awards  sharing the stage with other recognized women who continue to lead, inspire, and motivate others.  It took me a while to find my voice. I’d like to thank those women who came before me who unapologetically broke boundaries and definitions and celebrated the radiant beauty of diversity and individuality.  I’d like to also thank my nominator SupportHER. Serena Chan, Capco, Partner, Head of Innovation & Design, Women of Inspiration™  Trailblazer (STEM) Award

What Women of Inspiration™  is changing the landscape of possibilities for everyone.  By recognizing women and men as they do, this important organization assists everyone in empowering  themselves and organizations.  Catherine R Bell, MBA Founder and Author, The Awakened Company, Women of Inspiration Vision Builder Award

 To be seen, heard, and valued as a woman of inspiration involves having your contributions recognized and your voice respected. It’s about empowering women to lead, educate, elevate, innovate, unite while engaging in positive impact. It inspires us all to show up authentically for ourselves, each other and future generations. As we remove  limiting beliefs and strive for equality, this inclusive vision and mission is strengthened by the support of male allies, inspiring and creating greater impact together. H.E. Dame Heather McWilliam, CEO and Founder, Brave Inspires Brave – Women of Inspiration™ Advocate and Catalyst for Change Award

I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude for the splendid evening. It was truly an unforgettable event, one that will be etched in my memory for years to come. The meticulous attention to detail throughout the event, from the culinary delights to the ambiance, contributed to an exceptionally memorable experience. Moreover, the insightful conversations with Bobbi Brown and Steven, as well as the enriching interactions with fellow finalists and awardees, made the evening truly profound. Receiving the Rising Leader Award was a deeply meaningful validation of the dedication and passion I’ve invested in my roles at both A Sacred Motherhood Institute and G.E Canada. This recognition serves as a testament to the tireless efforts I’ve dedicated to honoring the profound role of mothers and women through A Sacred Motherhood Institute, as well as my commitment to excellence in leadership at G.E Canada.

Being recognized alongside so many accomplished and inspiring women was incredibly humbling. To have my contributions acknowledged in such a meaningful way by a community of trailblazers and change-makers was truly validating.

I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Universal Women’s Network for organizing the Women of Inspiration™ Award Night and for providing a platform to celebrate and elevate women’s voices. The experience was truly unforgettable and will undoubtedly serve as a driving force in my journey forward. Oyin Isaac – A Sacred Motherhood / G.E Canada- Women of Inspiration™ Rising Leader Award

 What an incredible evening celebrating the accomplishments of so many people! From the red carpet to the performances, to the insightful keynote from beauty mogul Bobbi Brown, the whole evening delivered on its promise: to inspire change. Tara McEwan – Guest

 What a truly inspirational opportunity to have worked with Monica and the Universal Womens Network through the Women of Inspiration Awards process in 2023.  Connecting with all of these incredible nominees while having a career of supporting women highlighted as the recipient of the Authentic Leader Award – will remain an unforgettable experience. Jaime Raymond, Security Manager, Oxford Properties Group – Women of Inspiration Authentic Leader Award

 First off, I wanted to send you a personal thank you for everything. It was a really emotional week for me as I was reflecting how often I have been labelled a “bad girl”, “liar”, “slut” and overall “vindictive women” in the justice system just for standing up for myself against sexual predators. And then on the flipside, I have moments like last week where I am reminded how many people actually support me and why I bothered to keep going with litigation in the first place.  From the deepest of my heart thank you for everything. It was a lovely event and I’ll never forget it.  This was a fantastic event, that was both entertaining and inspiring. The winners were dynamic and inspiring, and I can’t wait to attend again in the future. Anna DiBella – 2023 Women of Inspiration™ Women-Led 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™ champions for women in their networks, workplaces, and communities.

Filed under: Women of Inspiration

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