We are privileged to welcome Canada's most distinguished leaders, entrepreneurs, and trailblazers as mentors. By sharing their experiences and advice, our members gain candid perspective on what it takes to thrive in personal and professional life. Mentors lend personal insight on leadership development, challenges and successes, and everything in between.  

Upcoming MENTORS

JULY 2019

Mona Stott, Director Diamond Division, Mokada Custom Jewelry Design Studio

Mona Stott considers herself a responsible, conscientious and caring adult. Through a combination of education, supervision, employment, training and volunteer experience, Mona has developed excellent organizational, human relation and communication skills. Working independently or in a team environment she is always willingly to take on a new challenge.

Which is why, after a career in retail clothing sales, Mona embraced her recruitment by a reputable jewelry franchise in 1991. After finishing her apprenticeship (in only one year) Mona had transformed her location to top sales in the city. She was often recognized for ‘thinking outside the box’ and helpingcustomers find exactly what they were looking for by ‘tweaking’ franchise pieces. Ten years in thejewelry sector quickly escaped her and she recognized an increasing demand for custom designs as a welcome alternative to overpriced traditional options.

Therefore opening mokada custom jewelry design studio was the most logical thing to do. Mokada recognizes the desire to design a unique creation for your loved one while considering budget and quality. Mokada is dedicated to providing unbeatable service and the ultimate customer experience. Their state of the art design program transforms your ideas into reality. In addition to custom design her business offers appraisals, certified diamonds, repairs, engraving, marriage licenses, corporate and school rings. She has been an independent jeweler since 2000 and is now the proud partner of this exciting venture on Waterfront Drive.

On a more personal note...Mona has lived in rural Manitoba on a family farm for the last 35 years. She can most often be found tearing up dance floors with her husband of 38 years or hosting friends in their back yard oasis. She leads the Imagine fundraising team crusading for awareness surrounding mental health issues and is a northern reserve outreach worker for Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba. Her greatest accomplishments are having her children Joey and Danielle; who blessed her with granddaughters Mataya and Kennedy.

Given the many demands on what little spare time she has it should come as no surprise that today’sspeaker likes to unwind after a long day with a nice glass of red wine.




Barb Gamey is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Payworks, one of Canada’s largest national providers of Payroll, Human Resource, Time and Absence Management solutions located in Winnipeg with ten regional offices and over 300 employees across Canada. 

Barb is dedicated to community involvement: she sits on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Board of Directors, the Business Council of Manitoba’s Board of Directors, the TELUS Manitoba Community Board, is the vice-chair of the Premier’s Enterprise Team in Manitoba, and served as United Way Winnipeg’s 2018 Campaign Chair. She is an ongoing supporter of numerous other community and charitable organizations.


Lynne Skromeda is the Executive Director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival where she oversees the four-day summer festival, which hosts over 70,000 attendees each July, and its year-round initiatives including over 50 concerts and events. 

A graduate of the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba with specialization in Marketing and Small Business Management, Lynne previously spent more than 13 years in the film & TV industry, largely at Frantic Films, where she produced over 150 hours of original award-winning television programming and was responsible for overseeing its business affairs and the international distribution of nearly 600 hours of television.  

Also a passionate supporter of her community, Lynne has spent time on the boards of Festivals and Major Events (FAME) Canada, West End Cultural Centre, On Screen Manitoba and the Plug ICA as well as Premier’s Economic Advisory Council for the province of Manitoba. She is currently on the boards of Manitobans for the Arts, Green Action Centre, Imagine Canada and Music Canada Live as well as the Winnipeg Public Library Advisory Committee (City Centre) and the Mayor of Winnipeg’s Advisory Committee on Heritage, Culture and Arts.  

Jason Smith, of Winnipeg, is president and owner of Smith Events, a leading management and production company specializing major national events and festivals.  With over 25 years of experience, Jason has led Winnipeg’s best attended events including the Winnipeg Jets Whiteout Parties and Manitoba’s largest street festival, ManyFest. 

He was the Director of Special Events for the 2017 Canada Summer Games, overseeing the opening and closing ceremonies, the torch relay and 11 days of free cultural programming at the Forks, which welcomed over 230,000 visitors.  Prior to this, Jason has been the Managing Director of the 2016 Heritage Classic for the Winnipeg Jets, V.P., Entertainment & Events for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and President of the 103rd Grey Cup Festival. 

Jason has previously worked in several positions within the local, national and international event and entertainment industries, including Manager, Music Programs at Manitoba Film & Music, where he managed the recording, marketing, touring, and out-of-province funding programs and acted as Managing Director of the 2014 JUNO Awards in Winnipeg and was co-chair of the provincial governments “Year of Music” committee.  

He has 15 years’ experience as co-owner and operator of Smallman Records & Artist Management and over 25 years’ experience with in the music industry, including as a production manager with Paquin Entertainment, Event Manager of Edgefest, local promoter rep for The Union, Live Nation concerts, Much Music, and the Music West Festival and as a musician and manager with the band Twelve Eyes. 

Passionate about growing Manitoba’s cultural and event industries, Jason has held executive board positions with Manitoba Music, the Western Canadian Music Alliance, the Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers and the FACTOR National Advisory Council. He is currently on the marketing advisory committee for the United Way and the Venues, Events & Logistics advisory committee for the Manitoba 150 celebrations. 


UpHouse is creative marketing agency based in Winnipeg, founded by Alex Varricchio and Kiirsten may. UpHouse is located at the halfway point between outside advertising agency and a member their client’s in-house marketing department, filling in the skill gaps and offering guidance along the way. Alex Varricchio and Kiirsten May have spent their careers in advertising serving clients large and small in the education, manufacturing, agriculture, Indigenous, non-profit and arts industries. They started UpHouse to leverage their shared passion for creative strategy, concept development, coaching and – most importantly – collaboration.



Leilani Kagan and sister Lisa Stiver are lawyers at law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman. Leilani's practice is focused on corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, with a primary focus on owner-manager taxation issues, corporate reorganizations, estate planning, trusts and commodity tax issues. Lisa's practice focuses on corporate and commercial law, with particular emphasis on commercial transactions, and on real property conveyancing, leasing and financing. 



A graduate of Simon Fraser University, Obby Khan is renowned for his illustrious nine-year CFL career, wherein he was a three-time recipient of the Cal Murphy Heart of a Legend Award and Tom Pate Award, an honour awarded to the player who best demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship and dedication to the CFL and community.

Obby’s passion and drive have skyrocketed him to the forefront of Winnipeg’s entrepreneurial scene. Following his CFL retirement, Khan opened his first Shawarma Khan, and hasn’t slowed down since. Shawarma Khan, which specializes in fast-casual Middle Eastern cuisine, has two Winnipeg locations, as well as four in Investors Group Field. Not one to rest on his laurels, in 2013 Khan broke ground on Winnipeg’s first and only cold-pressed juice company. Green Carrot Juice Co.’s three locations now feature the healthiest on-the-go products for the local Winnipeg community. Khan strives to source local, ethical, and organic products whenever possible, and his restaurants’ quality reflects his high personal standards.

Time and time again, Obby Khan has proven his dedication to Winnipeg. He has devoted himself to his Board Role with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, worked tirelessly on his philanthropic endeavors, from Winnipeg Harvest to Project Echo, and supports the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, a cause close to his heart after battling the illness in 2007.



Rana Bokhari is lawyer at the Law Offices of Bokhari, Smith and Walker in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Rana is a graduate of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law (Juris Doctor), and also has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Psychology.

She was elected as Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party in 2013 and chose to pursue her new career in politics. As the first female minority leader and youngest leader of the Liberal Party in the history of Manitoba politics, she is an inspiration to all Manitobans to get involved and take leadership on issues that matter to everyone.  

Rana is a politician, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, and an advocate for women’s rights. She is a committed believer in public service and involves herself in community affairs and organizations to help bring awareness to causes she believes in.



Born in Jinja, Uganda, Ash, as he would come to be known, at 4 years old made a life-altering trip to Canada with his family following the Ugandan Asian Exodus as decreed by then-dictator of the country, Idi Amin.

Making his way in his new home of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ash would soon display the entrepreneurial spirit that would form his career path and come to shape the rest of his life. In grade 5, during a school play, Ash came up with the idea to take pictures of the production, including the cast, rehearsals and actual shots of the staged play. He subsequently sold those pictures back to the members of the play to ultimately pocket over $450.

Later, he cultivated a fascination and distinct interest in fashion, which would ultimately form a larger part of his affinity for design across a wide spectrum of disciplines and applications, not just clothing. In 1986, still in grade 12, he would take the first step in realizing his dreams when he established Dimensions 100, Inc., the parent company of Mondetta Clothing, with his friends. As the company grew, Ash was concurrently attending the University of Winnipeg and working at the company, eventually graduating with a B.A. in Economics, but by then Mondetta Clothing had become a resounding success.

In his role, Ash has had the opportunity to delineate, cultivate and articulate the organization’s approach to design, which he discusses with palpable passion and enthusiasm. He encourages his team of designers, in every department, to draw on all aspects of life, of human experience when searching for inspiration and to not only look at clothing as the starting point when contemplating design. Logging several million miles during his business travels has allowed Ash to see virtually every corner of the world and has given him an opportunity to witness first-hand the diversity of cultures and apply those differences in his own work.

In addition to his work at Mondetta, Ash has also engaged in a number of community and non-profit endeavors and organizations including the board of directors for the Health Sciences Foundation, the Bank of Canada Blue Ribbon panel, the Royal Bank Young Advisory Council, the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council during which time he also chaired an image task force and the Minister’s Trade Advisory Council.



Michelle Sawatzky grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba - where she attended the Steinbach Regional Secondary School and graduated in 1988. She led her team to the 1987 "AA" Provincial Volleyball championships. The starting setter on the 1989 Canada Summer Games Bronze Medallist Team, she was recruited to play with the University of Manitoba Lady Bisons from 1988 to 1993. At the University of Manitoba she was the starting setter as they won the National championship in 1990, '91, and '92. Throughout her University career she garnered many personal awards - she was named CIAU Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. In 1993, she was named the University of Manitoba Female Athlete of the Year.

Internationally, Michelle was a member of the Junior National Team in 1990 and also of two World Student Games teams in 1991 and 1993,that competed in Sheffield, England and Buffalo, New York. May of 1993 marked the start of Michelle's career as a member of the Senior National Team, with whom she travelled the world. In 1995, she was part of the bronze medal finish at the Pan American Games in Argentina. March of 1996 the team qualified for the Olympic Games and in July of the same year the team finished 9th at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Volleyball is not the only facet of Michelle Sawatzky's life -- music is certainly the other side of things. Michelle began to study music at the age of 4 and studied piano and voice for many years. She graduated from the U of M School of Music in 1993 with a Bachelor of Music Piano Performance and in 1991 and 1993 participated in the National Finals as a member of the Sabeon Piano Trio. In 1993, she completed a 12-concert solo piano tour of Western Canada. Also, as a member of the National Youth choir in 1992 and 1993, she performed at the World Symposium of Choirs.
Since the Olympics, Michelle sings at many events, whether they be anthems or her own compositions. She is a motivational speaker and has shared her story across Canada and into the US at many events, schools, churches, conventions and conferences. Hers is a story of overcoming obstacles and persevering "no matter what" to reach her dreams.

Now, Michelle spends every morning hosting "The Morning Show" on AM1250 Radio (Golden West Radio), she's been married to Chris Koop for 20 years, coaches multiple sports and does her best to keep up with her 15-year old twin boys, Paxton and Tyson, she teaches voice and piano lessons to a studio of 16 students, and spends many of her evenings MC'ing or speaking and loving it.



Jill is the Vice President, Merchandising and Wholesale with Winnipeg-based furniture manufacturer and retailer EQ3. She has worked with the company since 2004 in various marketing, merchandising and sales roles. Jill has her Master’s of Business Administration from Queen’s University and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba. Jill is an alumna of the 2017 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and is currently a board member of the Health Sciences Centre Foundation.  Her past community service includes the Young Associates, Jewish Federation and the United Way.



Lukas Neville is an assistant professor of organizational behaviour in the I.H. Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba. He holds a Ph.D. from the Smith School of Business at Queen's University.  At the Asper School, he conducts research on trust, conflict, and negotiation, and teaches negotiation in the Bachelor of Commerce, MBA, and Executive Education programs. His work is published in Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, Journal of Occupational Health PsychologyResearch on Managing Groups and Teams, and Psychological Science.



Connie Walker is the President and CEO of United Way Winnipeg. Connie first joined UWW as its Vice-President of Community Investment in 2008. She was a key driver of United Way’s focus on collective impact, collaborating with community partners on Peg (a community indicator system for our city), a long-term plan to end homelessness, and stewarding donor investments in a stable network of critical programs and services.

Connie began her career as a public health nurse in the inner city. Before joining United Way, Connie was the Manager of Strategic Initiatives in the City of Winnipeg’s Chief Administrative Office Secretariat where she worked closely with the Mayor and Council and the City’s CAO and Department Directors to lead corporate planning and strategic initiatives.

Connie has an MBA from the University of Manitoba and is a graduate of the Community Shift Executive Development Program and the Ivey School of Business. 



Mari Loewen is the founder of the lifestyle quarterly magazine ANNA (AnnaMagazine.ca), which is sold mainly by subscription and distributed across the country through McNally Robinson Booksellers, Chapters Indigo, Whole Foods Market and other retailers.

Mari had her J.K. Rowling moment a dozen years ago, when her marriage ended and she became a single parent of a one-year old daughter. "Divorce is so hard," Mari says. "It affects you to your soul." Financially, she was crippled. For the next few years, Mari toiled at a full-time job she knew was wrong for her, studied at night for her Certified Management Accountant designation and supplemented her income by baking cakes and pastries, which she would sell for a small profit at local shops.

"Every penny mattered," Mari recalls. "Some days, there would be no milk in the fridge and I remember having to go into my daughter's coin collection." The frustration of her situation grew. More than money, what Mari wanted was quality time with her growing daughter. She admired a girlfriend who had a sales-marketing job that allowed her to work from home with a generous salary. Mari applied to the company for a similar job, but was told she needed more experience. Mari decided to learn the art of sales.



MaryAnn Kempe currently holds the position of Chief Human Resources Officer with the Birchwood Automotive Group. She has over 25 years leading multi-faceted aspects of business – holding executive and senior roles in both public and private industries.  She is known as a high integrity, high impact leader, with a track record of developing and implementing transformational strategies and solutions. 

As an Executive Coach, MaryAnn inspires, motivates and ignites others to discover and develop their full potential. MaryAnn is recognized as a collaborative leader with highly developed interpersonal and communication skills and a passion for continuous learning – she holds multiple degrees in psychology, business, adult education, certified mediator, certified executive coach and an MBA.  She holds the highest level of professional certification in Human Resources - Fellow Certified Human Resource Professional (FCHR), was the gold medal recipient in the MBA-HR program and in 2010 was the recipient of the HR Visionary Leader, awarded by her peers and profession.

MaryAnn is passionate about our community. She has served on the United Way cabinet for anumber of years and has held various board positions in a variety of non-profit organizations.  MaryAnn believes that great leadership can be learned and is most energized when she’s helping others develop and find alignment with their values and personality.   “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” - John Q. Adams



Award winning author. Comic blogger. Screenwriter. Gap year globetrotter. Wife. Mom of two. Humanitarian. Champion of red wine. All wrapped up HERE

Daria's writing career began when she entered a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" writing contest in her local newspaper. Her essay won and it was her first published piece. She pitched offbeat story ideas to the Winnipeg Free Press and became a regular contributor, writing about her experiences learning to surf in Malibu, and jetting off to the Cannes Film Festival to cavort with celebrities; she also penned a monthly humour column on wedding planning gone awry.  Daria’s personal essays and travel writing have been featured in The Globe and MailPrairie Fire Magazine and Uptown Magazine

In 2008, Daria published her best selling and critically acclaimed first novel - The Prairie Bridesmaid.  The true and comic tale about a woman's epic struggle with adult life, relationships and family was optioned for film and won several awards. Daria has recently completed her second novel; this project is represented by Hollywood agency IPG and is in development for television. Daria maintains a popular humour blog about her recent gap year, traveling with her young family to over fifteen countries around world. A travel memoir, We Will Eat Our Young: A Year of Family Travel, will be published by Turnstone Press in 2017.

Daria holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba and an Arts degree from the University of Winnipeg. She is currently pursing a Masters Degree in Writing from the University of British Columbia. Daria has taught Creative Writing at Red River College as well as high school English. With her students, she partnered with CPAR, and raised over $100,000 for the construction of Rainwater Harvesting Tanks for three primary schools in Tanzania, Africa – a project of which she is immensely proud. While she’s constantly concocting plans to travel to exotic places, Daria lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two children.  



Tracey is an ambassador for the biotech industry with over 20 years of experience in both industry and non-profit organizations; passionate about creating opportunities for businesses by understanding industry needs. As President of the Life Science Association of Manitoba, she elevated its industry position by representing pharmaceuticals and medical devices companies, in addition to the agriculture and industrial biotech sectors. Through this influential role, she increased revenues 200% in the first 2 years, and built and managed a a team to successfully develop and implemented profitable programs that enhanced business opportunities for Manitoba SMEs, including trade missions and leadership development.

Prior to joining the Life Science Association of Manitoba, Tracey spent 13 years with Merck Frosst Canada as Policy Manager, focused on healthcare policy and securing coverage for medications on both private and public drug plans. She is past Chair of BioFibe (conference), past Chair of the Business of Science Conference, a current St. Boniface Hospital Research Enterprise committee member, and more. Tracey is also a PC candidate in the 2016 Manitoba Provincial Election.



Kal Barteski and Heidi Reimer-Epp are Cofounders of You Are Awesome Co., 

Heidi Reimer-Epp is President of Botanical PaperWorksSeedPaperPromo.com and YOUareAWESOMEco.com. She has a BComm (Hons) from Asper School of Business, serves on several corporate boards, and is a three-time published author and an enthusiastic champion of entrepreneurship. For 19 years, Heidi has steadily grown her company to include the likes of National GeographicStarbucks, and Sony in her client list. 

You’ve likely seen Kal’s script pop up on your social media feed, framed in a friend’s home, or through numerous collaborations, initiatives and philanthropic endeavors. KAL BARTESKI is an artist and brush script painter.  Sometimes called an illustrator or a poet, she’s a creative chameleon.  She loves life, lives passionately and cares about Manitoba and the world.  She is a TEDx speaker, published author, winner of a Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a CBC Manitoba future 40 under 40, CS3 Partners Manitoba’s Top 100 difference makers, and #36 on Ace Burpee’s Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans for 2015.  She lives life with a say ‘YES’ attitude and adventurer’s heart.  A friend, wife, mother of three amazing girls, lover of French bulldogs with a deep love for polar bears, drinker of black coffee and wine and Pilates certified STOTT instructor. Kal is an internationally recognized artist, has sold her paintings worldwide and has created brush script magic (illustrated typography) for companies all over the globe. 

Together, Heidi and Kal channel their creativity, inspirational vision, and talent in entrepreneurship to bring YouAreAwesome products into the homes and hearts of people all over the world. YouAreAwesome Co. provides custom script prints, accessories, holiday gifts, and more. 



After almost 15 years as President & CEO of Manitoba Lotteries and then Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, Winston was appointed by the Board of Directors as President of Business Development where he will lead a number of business development initiatives in the corporation. Winston was appointed President & CEO of Manitoba Lotteries in May 2000 and led that organization for more than a decade, until the merger with the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission was announced in April 2012, at which time he became the President & CEO of Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.  Prior to his tenure at Manitoba Lotteries, Winston served in a number of senior management positions with the Government of Manitoba including the Department of Finance, Treasury Board, Intergovernmental Affairs, Rural Development and Family Services.

At Manitoba Lotteries, Winston has been responsible for the development and implementation of a number of significant business and gaming development initiatives which have led to the corporation’s improved financial performance.  Winston’s contributions to Manitoba Lotteries have included the development of an annual Corporate Strategic planning process, a Corporate Governance Framework and Policies, a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy & Program, a Community Support Program, a Responsible Gaming Strategy and enhanced Human Resources policies and practices.  For the past several years, the corporation has won several business and community awards including being named one of Manitoba’s Top 25 Employers and one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers on two occasions.

In June 2014, Winston received an Industry Leadership and Contribution Award at the annual Canadian Gaming Summit for his participation and contributions to the Canadian gaming industry over a number of years. While at Manitoba Lotteries, Winston was requested by the Government to co-chair a team established to oversee and co-ordinate the implementation of the Auditor General’s recommendations to Government with respect to the Crocus Investment Fund. Winston has been involved in several volunteer organizations including the United Way, the All Charities Campaign, and has served as President and Board member of the Grain Exchange Curling Club and a Board member of the Manitoba Curling Association. In 2004, he was the honorary chair of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s (CNIB) ‘Eye on the Arts’ fundraising event. He is also a former board member of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation and the Interprovincial Lotteries Corporation. Winston retired from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries in 2016.




Jeff Appelt always knew what he wanted to do. As the third generation of a family business, he started working alongside his father at the young age of 13. Jeff worked with his Father to build what is now Appelts Diamonds, with 4 stand alone locations and the largest diamond engagement store in central Canada. After working in all areas of Appelts, finishing his business degree at the University of Manitoba, and then managing almost all locations of Appelts, he was 'handed the keys' by Bert Appelt in November 2013. With a passionate focus on customer experience, staff training, and development, Appelts has continued to stand the test of time, and soar past stereotypes of family-run business and multiple looming threats of recession. Jeff has passion for our community, and Appelts has been a resource for funding for many organizations such as special Olympics, Canadian breast cancer, Winnipeg Harvest, and most recently - changing the lives of orphaned girls in Moldova, who can seek a better life than what would have been the sex trade.

Sarah started her retail career at 17, managing a local Athletes Wear then moving to assist the owners of Gords Ski & Bike. After learning the trade of buying and managing a small business, Sarah moved to the Nygard head office in Winnipeg, working in inventory management and assisting in development of systems now used across Canada and the US for major department store like The Bay, Sears, Target, and Dillard's. Sarah transitioned from inventory to purchasing, and then into merchandise planning and development in a senior management role responsible for over $50M in annual purchases as well as product development, while being a liaison with retail operations and new store builds, cementing the connection between retail inventory and turnover, to sell through and product creation. In 2010, Sarah left Nygard to work with Pandora Jewellery to immerse herself in the industry before coming on board with Appelts Diamonds in 2011 as a trainer. Sarah now works alongside husband Jeff as Appelt's Director of Operation and Human Resources, and this dynamic pair has their sights set on leading the business to the next level, and growing Appelt's Diamonds for years to come. 

Jeff and Sarah were married in 2011 and have three wonderful children: Josh and Brooke (step-kids to Sarah), and baby Praya who they welcomed to the world late 2014!



After welcoming Tracy's husband [Mayor] Brian Bowman as a mentor in November 2014, Athena Leadership is thrilled to welcome Tracy Bowman as its featured mentor for June 2015. Tracy is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Protegra, a software solutions provider based in Winnipeg, and also teaches in the University of Winnipeg's Continuing Education Public Relations Program. She also stands as a member to the Manitoba Theatre Centre's Black and White Ball committee and is a Prairie Chapter Board Member of the Marketing Research Intelligence Association (MRIA). In past Tracy taught at the University of Manitoba's MBA program, and engaged heavily in community initiatives - serving as Honourary Co-Chair for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's annual gala, a member of the Foundation Board for the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, and national  board member and conference chair of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association. Outside of community, professional, and political engagements, Tracy is mom to sons Hayden and Austin and is an avid marathon runner. 



Kal Barteski is an artist and brush script painter. Sometimes called an illustrator or a poet, she's a creative rogue. She cares deeply about intellectual property online. She is a TEDx speaker, a published author + winner of a Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She was featured on Animal Planet/Discovery. She is curiously entertaining and inspiring. Always a work in progress, she has a deep, hard-to-understand love for polar bears - for all living creatures. She sells her paintings internationally and uses her signature brush script style to make magic with beautiful companies all over the globe.  Kal drinks black coffee, chases unicorns and dreams about polar bears.  She has three beautiful daughters, two French bulldogs and a great guy who shares her wild adventures. To Kal, work is play – because she doesn’t just love what she does, she does what she loves.



Autumn and Mike Fata share a remarkable story of success over the past two decades, as their lifelong passions for organic lifestyle led them to building Canada's largest hemp food company to its current state of success. Mike Fata is Cofounder and CEO of Manitoba Harvest (Hemp Products), a local company that grows, manufactures, and sells hemp based food products. Manitoba Harvest's non-GMO products are found on virtually every grocer’s shelves, from Costco to Safeway, Vita Health to online retail shopping carts - and include certified organic hemp hearts, proteins, oils, and non-dairy beverages. 

Starting in 1993, Mike and his two cofounders created the Manitoba Hemp Alliance, which started advocating for the production and commercial viability of hemp products, and eventually lead to creation of a new industry. Since 1998 he has run all aspects of the company, with his passion channeled by immense change in his health through hemp products, taking him from a struggling 300 pound teenager to his current fit, dynamic, and active state at 190 pounds. Fast forward to 2015: Mike has grown his multimillion-dollar company to reach across the globe, with nearly 100 employees and counting.  

Mike is highly involved in the community, and constantly advocates for healthier food options for Canadians. He has won numerous awards including Young Entrepreneur of the Year (2004), the Socially Responsible Business Award (2006), Company of the Year (2010), CHFA Organic Achievement Award (2010), Spirit of Winnipeg (2014), CME Emerging Business Award (2014), and the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year (2014). Further, he has led Manitoba Harvest to the Profit 100 list of fastest growing companies in Canada for 5 years.  Currently, MIke is Director & Treasurer of the Canadian Organic Trade Association, as well as Director & Treasurer of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) Manitoba. In past he served as Director of the Manitoba Food Processors Association and Director and President of the Canadian Hemp Trade Association.

Mike and Autumn are avid backyard organic farmers, enjoying the locally-grown Manitoba lifestyle with their two healthy and happy children, Roan and Rain. For more on Manitoba Harvest, visit http://manitobaharvest.com/



Kim Jeremic has been leading Canadian retail innovation and success for over three decades.  As current President of EQ3 Furniture, Kim leads product innovation and category expansion, and brand development for. As a retail trailblazer, her successive work with major firms such as La Senza, Hudson’s Bay, and role as past President and GMM of Ricki’s consistently generated industry-leading results in product performance and profitability, while engaging teams of over 1500 people.

A highly sought leader in the retail industry, Kim enjoys ongoing educational activity with Presidents’ Week at the Harvard School of Business and the Executive Finance Program at Queen’s University. Her approach and passion to enhance educational opportunities is innately aligned to board commitments. Kim firmly believes in giving back and generously provides mentorship to organizations focused on women and children, having previously served on the National Committee for the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Girls Fund supporting economic development in Canada. She is a current member of the Executive Committee for Young Presidents’ Organization (Winnipeg chapter), leads the Winnipeg Circle for Lean In (a global women’s career mentorship and leadership development initiative), and Chairs the local Next Gen YPO/WPO young adult program.



Brian Bowman is Winnipeg's newest Mayor, with endless energy and a vision to lead the city to the next level. As Partner at Pitblado Law, he practiced as a nationally recognized leader in the emerging fields of social media, access to information and privacy law, and is a frequent speaker, media commentator, and author. His role has allowed him to protect victims of cyber-bullying and for the protection of individuals personal rights. 

Before practicing law, Brian lived and worked in Australia and also Mexico City, where he worked for the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Brian was instrumental, as the Chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, in launching the Winnipeg BOLD Initiative – a community driven think tank that brought the creation of YES!Winnipeg, The World Trade Centre, and the Centralia Conference (that showcased Winnipeg to 600 companies from 30 countries). As the Chair of the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), Brian led a vision that saw an increase in visibility and accessibility for the WAG. This resulted in greater programming for school children and a variety of non-profit community partners. This vision also helped the organization continue to see strong surpluses and greater overall community engagement. Brian has also served many other community not-for-profits that include Ka Ni Kanichihk and the Manitoba Naturalists Society. He has also served as President of the University of Manitoba Alumni Association, and he has assisted the Certified General Accountants Association of Manitoba.

He was presented with the Community Involvement Award by the Manitoba Bar Association in 2011 for exemplary volunteer services to the community, and was also inducted into the Shaftesbury High School Alumni Wall of Fame in recognition of achievement in business and community, and has received an Honourary Designation of CGA from the Certified General Accountants Association of Manitoba. Brian was also profiled in “The Heart of Winnipeg: A Profile of Community Leadership”, published by Leadership Winnipeg in 2012. Brian holds a Bachelor of Arts (Adv) in history and political studies from the University of Manitoba, and a Juris Doctor law degree from the University of Toronto. A husband, father and devoted dad, Brian and his wife Tracy are the proud parents of Hayden and Austin.




As founder and CEO of what was Manitoba’s largest independently-owned investment firm, Wellington West Capital Inc., Charlie has continuously demonstrated his expertise in the area of financial investments and capital market development. National Bank acquired Wellington West Inc. in July 2011. Prior to forming Wellington West, Charlie was a Senior Vice President and Director of Midland Walwyn Capital Inc., Canada’s largest independently-owned retail investment firm. During his 13 year tenure with Midland Walwyn, Charlie consistently ranked as the Firm’s top annual producer of the close to 1,000 financial advisors employed nation-wide. Under Charlie’s leadership, Wellington West Capital currently employed more than 400 people and managed over $7.2 billion in assets, representing more than 30,000 client accounts. The Firm traded more than $4.5 billion worth of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other securities on an annual basis for its clients.

Charlie has played a very active role in the Manitoba Community. Wellington West Capital was chosen by the Government of Manitoba as one of the lead underwriters for the Manitoba Hydro Bond offering, placing more than $200 million in the Manitoba Investment Community. Since inception, Wellington West, under Charlie’s leadership, has completed corporate finance issues well in excess of $750 million. Charlie has also been recognized for his achievements beyond the scope of the Manitoba border and has been chosen as one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40″. As a company, Wellington West was chosen as one of the Financial Post’s Top 50 best-managed companies for 6 consecutive years.

Dayna Spiring served from 2015 to 2015 as Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel at Canadian Wheat Board. She was responsible for corporate strategy and development, legal, corporate positioning and communications, investor relations, Board and corporate secretary, and Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP). Dayna was named President and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg in May 2016. 



Ida Albo, is a hotelier, entrepreneur, yoga practitioner, economist, restaurateur, philanthropist and volunteer.

She holds a B.A. (Honours) in Economics from the U of W, and a Master Master of Arts (Economics) from Queen’s University. She worked as an economist for the Government of Canada in the departments of Human Resources and Finance, and as an economics lecturer at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Ida has demonstrated incredible energy, leadership, caring, and commitment to Winnipeg, especially in the areas of economic, social and cultural development and revitalization, education, and health.

Ida Albo has served numerous other community and charitable organizations, including the University of Winnipeg Foundation, as board member; CentreVenture Development Corporation, as Chair; and as a board member for the Tourism Association of Winnipeg; Canadian Tourism Commission; Health Sciences Centre Research Foundation; Citizens Against Impaired Driving and the Pan Am Clinic Foundation. Albo is also Chair of the Guardian Angel Benefit Committee for the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Albo’s energy, entrepreneurial spirit, and enthusiasm for learning and adventure have also been key to the successful hospitality business ventures undertaken by Albo and her partner Rick Bel. She worked to restore The Fort Garry Hotel and transformed it into one of Winnipeg’s finest hotels and event venues. She travelled extensively for inspiration and knowledge to create unique experiences before opening TenSpa in 2005. Her passionate belief in the benefits of yoga led Albo to train as a yoga instructor in California and to open Yoga Public in downtown Winnipeg in February 2012.



From 1998 until 2003, she was the City of Winnipeg’s first Chief Administrative Officer, replacing a Board of Commissioners and becoming the first woman to run a major Canadian city. In the intervening period, she served as Vice-President of Finance and Services at the University of Calgary, and as Chief Executive Officer for the BC Pension Corporation. Stephens was named by the Women’s Executive Network in 2003, 2010 and 2011 as one of “The 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada”, the country’s most recognizable award for high-achieving female leaders in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

As Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Stephens will provide leadership for a team of directors and managers, and oversee Museum operations in areas that include visitor services, communications and marketing, strategic partnerships, human resources, purchasing, facilities and security. She will share responsibility for the Museum’s overall financial performance, with specific responsibility for the effective management of all revenue-generating functions.



Myrna is currently the Member of Legislative Assembly for Charleswood (Winnipeg), Manitoba, and Critic for Health and Status of Women. She also sits on the Public Accounts Committee. Myrna has held a number of diverse critic roles in the past including that of Deputy Leader, Critic for Finance, Civil Service & Crown Corporations Council, Child & Family Services, and Education. During her time in government, she was the Legislative Assistant to the Minister of Health. In 2011, Myrna was elected Chair of the Canadian Region of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) by her peers from across the country. In September, 2012, Myrna was also elected the Vice-Chair CWP International. CWP works for better representation of women in legislatures throughout Canada and the Commonwealth.

Before entering public life, Myrna had a successful and rewarding career as a registered nurse with experience in general duty, nursing education, medical and nursing research, patient education, and nursing administration. Her nursing experience has led her to have a passionate voice for a better health care system.

As President and Executive Director of Child Find Manitoba, Myrna was a leading advocate for the protection of children. Her fierce determination and leadership were the driving force behind the early development of Child Find Manitoba, which is now recognized across Canada as a central player in child protection issues.



With an Economics degree and nearly 20 years investment industry experience, Susan is a girl’s financial best friend. Her extensive knowledge extends to all areas of the investment business, including trading stocks, bonds and options, financial and tax planning and corporate finance. Her true passion, however, lies in a more holistic view of wealth management, making finance real, relevant, and relatable for women. She is passionate about women accumulating, growing, and protecting their wealth and fully believes the future of finance is female. To learn more about Golden Girl Finance click here



A seasoned entrepreneur, Laura brings passion and extensive experience in the building of a brand and message with authenticity and ownership. Her marketing and communications expertise encompasses the financial, franchising, as well as entertainment industries. Laura is also a published author, with a focus on female entrepreneurship. She fully believes in developing and expanding on capital opportunities for women starting their own businesses. It’s about dreaming big, laying the proper foundation, and then making it happen. To learn more about Golden Girl Finance click here



One of Manitoba’s most distinguished political leaders, Sharon Carstairs became Leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba in 1984. She was elected to the Legislative Assembly in Manitoba in 1986 and led the Liberal Party in Manitoba to a monumental election gain. She became the first woman to lead the Official Opposition in a Canadian Legislative Assembly in 1988 and remained active in political life throughout the 1990s being appointed to the Senate then serving as the first woman to be Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. Amongst so many other accomplishments, she is an advocate for women and children and a defender of human rights.



Globally recognized civility expert Lew Bayer is Canada’s leading expert on civility at work. As founder of Civility Experts and national columnist and co-author of “The Power of Civility – Top Experts Reveal the Secrets of Social Capital”, Lew specializes in social intelligence and culturally competent communications. Founder of The Center for Cultural Competence, she is CEO of the multi-national training group CivilityExperts.com and president of the International Civility Trainers’ Consortium. Her distinguished awards include Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur in International Business and the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) first Canadian Civility Star Award in 2010.



Paul Soubry joined New Flyer as President and CEO in 2009. Prior to New Flyer, he worked for 24 years with Standard Aero and his last position was President and CEO. Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba and attended the Executive Development program at Harvard Business School. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course and recently graduated from Director’s Education Program at the Institute for Corporate Directors at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. Paul Soubry joined New Flyer as President and CEO in 2009.

Prior to New Flyer, he worked for 24 years with Standard Aero and his last position was President and CEO. Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba and attended the Executive Development program at Harvard Business School. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course and recently graduated from Director’s Education Program at the Institute for Corporate Directors at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.



Onalee Aimes is a globally recognized actress, producer, and acting teacher. Prior to owning and operating Onalee Aimes Film Studio in Winnipeg, Manitoba for a number of years, she was a stand up comic and actor in Vancouver and L.A., working on a number of award-winning films and TV series features. Onalee currently resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and three children.



Susan Lewis has been committed to the United Way movement since 1974 when she began with the Winnipeg agency, assuming the role of President and CEO in 1985. She has also been involved in United Way of Canada in many capacities over the years, currently serving as a member of the President’s Advisory Council, a member of the Business Transformation Coalition and a member of Select Cities. A Winnipegger through and through, Susan has devoted countless hours to local causes and organizations including the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council, both on its Steering Committee and as a member of the Asset Building Task Force. She also sits on the Premiers’ Council on Education and Poverty. She was the first ever female campaign director in Canada, and upon assuming the helm, became the country's first female United Way President. 

In 2011/2012 Susan served as vice chair of the board for Imagine Canada, a national charitable organization that works to advance knowledge and relationships to foster effective and sustainable charitable and non-profit organizations. In May 2011, she was admitted into the Order of Manitoba. The province’s highest honour, it recognizes individuals whose work has benefitted the social, cultural or economic well-being of Manitoba and its residents. Susan retired from the United Way in November 2014 after 40 years of service with the United Way Winnipeg, with more than 30 of those years as its leader. Susan was invested into the Order of Canada in 2015.



After 20 years of progressive sales and leadership with a major Canadian brewery, Norva Riddell joined True North Sports & Entertainment (TNSE) in the summer of 2004. Riddell provides leadership in the areas of ticket sales, corporate sales (sponsorships and suites) and client services for the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, and other major sporting and entertainment events hosted by TNSE and the MTS Centre. In 2007, she also took over the role of overseeing the facets of marketing, promotions and game production, ensuring cohesive integration for True North in both sales and marketing. In 2008 Riddell was awarded the American Hockey League’s Ken McKenzie Award, recognizing her significant accomplishments in marketing and sales for the Manitoba Moose among all AHL member clubs. Riddell is also a Board member of the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation and the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.



As President of DZ&A, Denise specializes in leading organizations through strategic initiatives, leadership development, change implementation, multi-generational strategies and performance management. She is a creative, business solutions and values based executive with over 20 years of general management, financial and strategic planning, process management, human resource management, coaching, instructing, and facilitating experience across private and public sector industries.

Through active leadership, Denise has led strategic change in a number of aggressive settings; identifying all financial, process improvement, leadership and human capital requirements followed by an active involvement in the implementation and evaluation of the final strategies.

Concurrent with leading her own business practice, Denise was a part time instructor at the University of Manitoba instructing in Financial Reporting, Introductory Management Accounting, Intermediate and Advanced Cost Accounting. She is a moderator/facilitator in the Society of Management Accountant’s Strategic Leadership Program. The program’s ongoing reviews and studies of business case analysis and the business life cycle in conjunction with all phases of strategic development within an organization, provide Denise with current learning and applications to best practice organizational performance.

Denise speaks regularly across North America on the topic of culture strategy and talent management at conferences and continues to be active as a volunteer in her community.



Theresa specializes in recruiting top sales and marketing professionals across all industries, with a particular focus on the agricultural and insurance sectors. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to read beyond experience and education to identify corporate cultural fit. With a keen eye for identifying the variations of sales and marketing professions, Theresa prides herself on her ability to fulfill each client’s needs by seeking out the precise candidate for their distinctive requirements.

Theresa is the proud mother of two girls and can often be overheard sharing with others how much she “loves her job”. Outside of work Theresa enjoys playing dodge ball and golfing, spending time with her daughters and hanging out with her best friends. Theresa received her Certified Sales Professional (C.S.P.) designation in 2010.



Tracy Koga is a true Manitoban, born and raised in Winnipeg, and now happily married and raising her family here. Tracy is a former dancer with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet going through the school ranks, graduating right into the company. After dancing around the world, she settled down back home and landed an opportunity to work for Shaw TV covering arts and entertainment. For more than 10 years with Shaw TV, Tracy enjoys producing and hosting “Backstage” everyday, and working on TV specials that have taken her to Disney World, Churchill and The Pas in Manitoba\’s north, and as far away as Israel! Tracy is really excited to be co-host for “Urban Star” traveling across the country and broadcast exclusively on Shaw TV.