SHE LEADS 2023
Featuring two panel discussions:
Food, Dessert Table, and Cash Bar
- BECOMING ATHENA
- EMPOWERING WOMEN IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Date: Thursday, November 30, 2023
Time: 6:00pm to 9:30pm
Where: The Machine Shop, 83 Huron St, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 5P4
Tickets: Advance Registration Required
- General Admission: $49.95+hst
- Buy 4 tickets, receive a free vendor table. First come, first serve, limited to 20
meet an ATHENA leader! opening remarks:
Panel One – Becoming ATHENA
Hear from four of our first graduates of the Becoming ATHENA: Leadership Training. The inaugural Becoming ATHENA Leadership training program brought together 10 women in search of bringing about profound transformations into the lives through the acquisition of knowledge, self-reflection, and the establishment of strong relationships. These remarkable women have experienced significant growth in their self-understanding and acknowledgment, as well begun the journey to reaching unprecedented levels of achievement and success. They have expressed a newfound confidence in advocating for themselves, and attained a self-confidence that will help them in successful negotiations for salary increases, promotions, and increased responsibilities creating new possibilities in their personal lives. In today's extraordinary times of post pandemic, recession, rising costs, conflicts and a global movement to address racial and economic justice, the ATHENA Leadership Model (ALM) offers the skills and attributes for building the successful leaders we need now and for the future. This session will be moderated by our current Past President, Karen Bird a certified trainer of the Becoming Athena program.
- Karen Bird, Certified Becoming Athena Trainer, CCO, Indigenous Impact Investment Circle (3iC)
- Justine Lamming, FlexLedgers Inc
- Tamara Ashawasega, Thessalon First Nation
- Heather Wellings, Maximus Rose Living Benefits Inc.
Panel Two – Empowering Women in the Digital Age
As we prepare for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024 and the theme #InspireInclusion, when women aren't present, we must ask: "If not, why not?" This panel will explore sectors that are growing in the use of technology and how technology and education in the digital age can help the empowerment of women and girls across the world as leaders and as entrepreneurs. As today’s world becomes increasingly digital, technology plays a greater role in innovation, economic development, and creation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This begins by teaching and coaching young people that successful entrepreneurs and leaders are not classified or limited by gender. If young males are taught early that females can be impactful leaders and entrepreneurs, they will be more supportive and better able to recognize success. Young women should learn that they are equal to men and can and must dream big: women must know that they can be even better. For example, in cinematography the percentage of women working as directors, writers, editors, producers and cinematographers on the 250 highest-grossing U.S. movies is only rising slowly with still, only 25 percent of those roles filled by women in 2021. The technology industry is booming across all sectors but if a rising tide lifts all boats, why has the inclusion and participation of women not also shot up?
- Marie Alexander (SSMIC)- Director of Custom Solutions and Products
- Brenda Saunders, CEO, trakrSuite
- Candice Day, Professor - Digital Film Production at Sault College of Applied Arts & Technology
- Karen Lehtonen - Manager of Data Services, Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
- Monique Morrison - Owner of Success with Digital and BigUps Consulting
Traci Costa is a prominent figure in the field of women's leadership development. Her unwavering commitment to cultivating leaders has earned her numerous accolades, including the prestigious ATHENA Leadership Award in 2018. Traci's commitment to empowering women led her to serve on the ATHENA International Board of Directors until she was named the President and CEO in 2021.
Before her tenure with ATHENA International, Traci played an instrumental role as the founding director of the Olivet College Women's Leadership Institute. In less than three years, she spearheaded the establishment of numerous women's leadership programs that positively impacted the lives of over 1,500 girls and women.
Beyond her leadership in the realm of women's empowerment, Traci boasts an extensive background in fundraising. She served as the North Central Regional Director for the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) and earned recognition for her contributions to the field. Her achievements included being elected to the Northern Arizona Association of Fundraising Professionals Board and being named the 2009 Northern Arizona New Fundraising Professional of the Year.
Traci's journey towards leadership began on the volleyball court as a former NCAA Division 1 volleyball coach and athlete. Hailing from California, she attended California State University, Fresno on a full athletic volleyball scholarship. Traci's athletic prowess earned her two-time team MVP honors, three-time scholar-athlete distinctions, a spot on the All-Big West Conference team, and recognition as the FSU Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She continued her journey as the founding head volleyball coach at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, securing a conference championship title and earning the title of TCAC Conference Coach of the Year.
Traci's diverse range of experiences fuels her fervent dedication to empowering leaders and upholding ATHENA's vision to inspire all leaders to play their part in advancing gender-balanced leadership worldwide. She possesses a profound passion for supporting and inspiring others as they tap into their unique and authentic leadership strengths. Traci is resolutely committed to instilling ATHENA's culture of empathy, compassion, and inclusivity in workplaces and rewriting the leadership narrative.
In March of 2023, Traci embarked on The ATHENA Enlightenment Tour, a global journey aimed at expanding awareness for ATHENA, strengthening community relationships, and amplifying the local ATHENA leaders who are effecting transformative change, championing women and girls within their communities.
meet our SHE LEADS panelists:
My career started after graduating with honours from Sault College. I worked varies roles ranging from entry level general accountant to full cycle payroll for large organizations. I knew that my journey would eventually include entrepreneurship and I now own and operate a bookkeeping firm located in Laird (Echo Bay). We work closely with clients to relieve any stress associated to bookkeeping and get them back to their businesses. I personally think that continued growth comes from constant learning, whether that be through experiences or traditional education. There’s a never ending stream of opportunity that supports other amazing woman and ally leaders and I’d love to be even a small part of that.
Tamara Ashawasega, a local Indigenous woman originally from Henvey Inlet First Nation, whose home is now Thessalon First Nation has come full circle. Tamara started off under the wings of her parents, who were advocates for Indigenous rights. She has worked in IT, finance, and business development with a more focused approach recently on economic and community development. She has many years of experience working for the not-for-profit Indigenous organizations through their growth phases. Her upbringing includes instilling culture and respect while honouring our history and language. Tamara enjoys life with her partner, four adult children, and two young grandchildren. Currently the Economic Development Officer for Thessalon FN and taking part-time courses from NVIT towards economic certification, Tamara still finds opportunity to learn. With her recent medical journey, not yet completed, Tamara has learned to appreciate the healing of the mind, body and spirit and the celebration of life and family. As she embraces the healing process, she remembers the importance of having a support system, and that everybody, no matter what walk of life, or gender, or history, deserves to have a meaningful support system, no matter how small or big it may be. We all need one. Tamara is planning to pilot an Indigenous women and youth focused entrepreneurship program to provide healing and empowerment to our communities. It’s time to give back.
Meet Heather Wellings, a dedicated and adventurous individual with a passion for making a difference. A loving wife and proud mother of two incredible daughters, Heather’s journey has been a tapestry of diverse experiences. For the first half of her career, Heather navigated various customer service industries, honing valuable skills in communication, empathy, and supporting others.
At the age of 40, fueled by a desire for meaningful work, Heather made a bold decision to return to school and pursue a career in nursing. This transformative choice marked a new chapter in her life, where she could directly impact others' well-being.
The adventure didn't stop there. Embracing her desire for adventure and taking on new challenges, she took a leap at 50 by participating in Soo Sings and even joined a hockey league, challenging herself beyond her familiar comfort zone. These experiences not only added excitement to her life but also taught her the importance of continual personal growth.
Despite finding great enjoyment in these new adventures, her heart finds solace in the simple joys of life. Heather’s favourite pastime involves leisurely walks with Adeline, her beloved golden retriever. These moments of tranquility amidst nature allow her to recharge and appreciate the beauty in the ordinary.
With a heart full of love for my family, and a spirit awakened by new challenges, Heather continues to embrace each day as a new opportunity for growth and fulfillment.
Brenda’s career spans over 25 years in customer service, sales, and marketing. Her ability to listen to the needs of the customer while driving innovation into untapped markets has grown stronger with each passing year.
In 2012, Brenda, along with her family, moved back to Sault Ste Marie to continue her journey as an entrepreneur. She is a devoted family woman and cherishes the time she took to be a stay-at-home mom, acknowledging the lessons learned made her a better leader.
When she’s not weaving spells of innovation in the tech industry, Brenda can be found with her Kindle or paintbrush in hand or jammin’ with the family in her old stone home.
Candice Day has a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University. She spent fifteen years in Toronto working in the film, television and digital media industry.
While there, Candice served as the Executive Producer at CORE Digital Pictures - a digital visual effects and animation studio owned by William Shatner and as the Director of Business Development for March Entertainment where she helped secure millions of dollars in funding for animated projects and app development. She has worked at the Canadian Film Centre, Directed a children's television series for PBS and sat on the Board of Directors for CASO - the Computer Animation Studios of Ontario
Candice's award winning short films have screened at numerous international film festivals including "106" which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Most recently, Candice helped to design and launch Sault College's - Digital Film Production Program where she is currently a Professor.
After graduating from Lakehead University with a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts Degree (Geography major), Karen taught in Fort Frances, Ontario and London, England. Upon returning to Canada, Karen enrolled in the GIS Specialist program at Sault College and graduated with a GIS Specialist Post Graduate Certificate.
Karen has 10 years of practical experience through GIS and data related jobs. Before joining the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre’s Acorn division in January 2019, Karen worked as a GIS Technician/Analyst for Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. Since joining Acorn in 2019, Karen has been a part of the Health and Social Services Team and most recently has been given the opportunity to mentor team members and lead the team’s data and GIS projects.
Monique Morrison is owner of both, Success with Digital and BigUps Consulting and is a huge supporter of training and educating on all things marketing and automation. A champion of digital marketing for small businesses and corporations alike, she's been able to consistently drive revenue growth for clients over her 15 years in the marketing space.
She is a coach with the DigitalMarketer M3 Mastermind and the Centre for Social Innovation and has spoken on major stages like Traffic & Conversion Summit. Her super power is her ability to take complex ideas and explain them in easy-to-understand terms which she uses when she hosts webinars, live streams, and more teaching those in her community and beyond how to effectively implement digital marketing.
meet our SHE LEADS moderators:
Karen Bird is Ojibwe from Batchewana First Nation, ON Canada who lives in Sault Ste Marie, ON Canada. She is celebrating 25 years of varied business and financial industry experience including commercial lending, business advisory services, housing property management, renewable energy management, business plan writing and start-up company coaching. Karen was the proud recipient of the 2015 Influential Women of Northern Ontario’s Aboriginal Leadership Award and the 2018 ATHENA Leadership Award. Karen is the proud mother of four, spent most of her life on reserve, values her language and carries many cultural teachings. Karen currently sits on the Board for TakingITGlobal and is first Indigenous President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. Karen is a strong advocate for women in business, Indigenous inclusion and sexual assault survivors through numerous seminars, panels and guest speaking engagements.
Marie manages and leads custom software and development projects while also overseeing the management of Acorn licensed products. With over 20 years of experience, Marie and her highly skilled team ensure that clients requiring unique solutions are provided with the most effective results that meet their needs.