• MEDIA RELEASE - Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Women In Business

    For Immediate Release
    March 8, 2023
    Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Celebrates
    Women In Business on International Women’s Day
    Jane Omollo, presented with the ATHENA Leadership Award 
    Sault Ste. Marie – The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) was pleased to host its 22nd annual Women In Business event, presented by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), on Wednesday, March 8th to coincide with International Women’s Day 2023. Participants and organizers were able to return to an in-person event this year following two years of virtual events due to COVID-19.
    This year’s Women In Business event is one of several SSMCOC events being rebranded with its ‘Difference Makers’ label.
    Event emcee, and Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Board member, Sherry Berlinghoff, owner of SK Group, explains “for the Chamber, a ‘Difference Maker’ is a Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce member, organization or person, who accomplishes extraordinary things by creating positive change in our community and in the lives of others. They are people who have leadership roles in work, business, family, and community, creating networks of like-minded people everywhere and anywhere. They are organizations that embrace the broader purpose of creating positive change through determination, leadership, teamwork, inspiration, courage, excellence, integrity, generosity, and compassion”.
    The breakfast event was attended by almost 250 participants and included a panel discussion featuring local business and professional women from a variety of industries, who shared experiences, success stories and advice to help inspire and support business women in Sault Ste. Marie. The panel included:
    • Marnie Stone, owner of Stone's Office Supply
    • Dianne Roach, Director of Operations for Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig
    • Natalia Mclean, Vice President of Operations and Business Development at ATS (Algoma Technology Services)
    The panel discussion was led by La-Na Fragomeni of Arthur Funeral Home – Barton & Kiteley Chapel. During the discussion, panelists opened up about some of the challenges of being women business leaders and entrepreneurs, and of operating in a pandemic economy during the last couple of years. Tammy Watts, co-owner of Northern Natural Health and Wellness, originally scheduled to participate in the panel, had to send her regrets but was present in spirit. 
    Esther Zdolec, Senior Vice President, People and Culture with OLG delivered a keynote address, where she spoke of her own work experiences, often in male dominated professions.  She spoke of the need to eliminate barriers, and to avoid expecting women (or anyone for that matter) to conform to outdated notions of what it takes to be successful in the workplace, and she encouraged business women in the room to support each other, encourage one another, and continue making it easier for women to juggle diverse professional, and personal responsibilities.
    Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce event included the presentation of the Chamber’s ATHENA Leadership Award. The ATHENA Award is recognized internationally and has been sponsored locally by Sault College for 15 years.  It is presented to a woman (or man), who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.
    The recipient of this year’s award was Jane Omollo.
    Omollo was recognized for her extensive efforts to expand programming and services for newcomers to Sault Ste. Marie while working with the Sault Ste. Marie Community Career Centre, and for her work promoting diversity and equity, both as the founder of the African Caribbean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario (ACCANO) and as EDI Manager at Algoma University.
    Berlinghoff discussed this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Embrace Equity’, noting that "equal opportunities are no longer enough - and can in fact be exclusionary, rather than inclusive.” 
    She explained that that “equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities, whereas equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people's ability to thrive.”   
    The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce wishes to thank our Women In Business: The Difference Makers presenting sponsor: OLG; our ATHENA Award sponsor: Sault College; our partner sponsors, Bell, Kevanna Fine Photography, and The Water Tower Inn.
    About the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
    The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization comprised of 600 plus businesses and agencies in Sault Ste. Marie and has been serving the needs of this community since 1889. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will lead the way as the voice of business, advancing economic prosperity for its membership and the business community. Learn more about the SSMCOC at www.ssmcoc.com.
    For more information:
    Rory Ring, CEO
    Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
    705-949-7152, ext 1

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