Learning, community building, mentoring, accelerating, teaching, and networking

Ma Leadership

In December 2017, I began my (long overdue) journey towards achieving my Master of Arts in Leadership at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. This blended program consists of two years of interdisciplinary study. In each year, we students focus on relevant, real world problem-solving projects grounded in a rigorous theoretical understanding of the nature of today’s organizations and the changing role of leadership within them. 

The BIG Push

I am incredibly proud to support this diverse, and talented group of women from Toronto. Through a Service-for-Equity model, TBP supports women-led startups through acceleration planning and domain expertise to help their companies grow from Seed to Series A funding .

Techstars Toronto

Few accelerator programs globally have the reputation that Techstars does. It was an honour to be invited to be a mentor as part of the launch of the Toronto program, and work with startups building in a variety of verticals.

Roundhouse Accelerator

Housed in a beautifully revitalized train roundhouse in London, ON, this program incorporates mentors, programming and networking with investors. As a mentor, I am proud to be part of a program that is focused on building in the 519 and amplifying the success of Southwestern Ontario companies.

Women in Communications and Technology

I am very proud to have been a part of the Board that re-launched the London, ON chapter of WCT, and which reignited and revitalized its local presence.


Inspired by TED Fellow Candy Chang, this project was presented at Ignite Waterloo and Ignite Stratford. Working with photographer Elizabeth Davidson, we looked at brown spaces in the city, and engaged in a dialogue with its citizens. The results were entertaining and informative.


Inspired by the idea of “enlighten us, but make it quick,” I curated and produced two Ignite Stratford events in Stratford, Ontario. There’s way more than just the theatre in this beautiful city. Hear these incredible storytellers, and get inspired.



A monthly gathering for small business owners started in 2010 in Stratford and Perth County, that covered subjects such as roadmap development and planning, social platforms, and digital marketing.

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Women &



In 2016, I planned to return to school and fulfill my life-long goal of achieving my Master’s degree. In December 2017, I was accepted into the Leadership program at Royal Roads University. I chose this school and this program for a number of reasons. The school’s reputation and testimonials from others that had completed the program certainly influenced my decision, but it was the program’s purposeful systems theory approach that was the deciding factor. The school’s later designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus further reinforced that I had chosen the right program at the right school.

Already in this program, I have been challenged, celebrated, informed, and supported. As it states on the homepage of this website, I work to create positive IMPACT, no matter the domain. Whether in my classrooms, with my clients, in the audience at one of my talks, or one-on-one with the women that I mentor, I want to support, empower, and hopefully at times inspire those I connect with. These are the tenets that drive me in my work, and my life.

Below, you can read details about the Leadership program, my most recent term of completed work (Self-Directed) and the goals of my capstone program (the ELP). You will also find an outline of my current focus (My Contention), and how I hope to work with local community groups and members to examine this question.

Ultimately, I wish to co-produce programming with like-minded organizations to leave a positive impact on women, their extended networks, and my community. I hope that you’ll join me.

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The core competencies of the Master of Arts in Leadership program at Royal Roads University

The core competencies of the Master of Arts in Leadership program at Royal Roads University


The MA in Leadership is an applied, competency-based program offering advanced leadership skills for experienced leaders interested in developing more effective organizations and communities. Focusing on factors that contribute to successful problem solving and innovation, this program provides key skills and insights to professionals working in corporate, academic, public sector, and not-for-profit environments. 

Self-Directed Studies

[Completed October 2018; see My Contention below.] Enables students to design and implement a personal course of study relevant to their specific needs and interests. Students select the topic, draft a course of study agreement, come to an agreement with the faculty member on the course of study, and pursue the agreed-upon course of study. This course includes a learning component in which students work online with a team of self-directed learners, sharing knowledge and receiving and giving peer support and feedback.

the Engaged Leadership Project (ELP)

Requires students to conduct a project in the role of leader-as-inquirer to support positive change within an organization, community, network, or community of practice. The Engaged Leadership Project (ELP) enables a thorough understanding, application, and synthesis of the MA Leadership program competencies. The ELP fulfills two essential criteria in that it requires the student to: (a) meaningfully engage a group of people in a collective effort to create positive change; and (b) make a genuine leadership stretch for the ELP student. The final ELP project report and/or supplemental knowledge products demonstrate the student’s completion of the above tasks.

My Contention

A woman’s leadership trajectory in a company or organization is often fraught with gender-based challenges and pointed disruption. Whether it’s the “glass ceiling”, the “glass cliff”, or outright harassment, stories as to why women leave these toxic environments are plentiful and well documented.


In my self-directed studies, I conducted an examination of current literature, exploring women’s leadership experience, and the barriers they face, and identified five potential community partners to work with as part of my capstone project.


The focus of my capstone will be to identify what happens to women’s leadership trajectory after they are disrupted. I want to ascertain any positive ways they moved forward because of that disruption, and identify the resources or support that may or may not have existed for them. I intend to specifically target the demographic of women that are aged 42-65, as I believe that there is an intersection between ageism and sexism that is worth exploring. 

I have identified five local community groups that I hope to work with. I have chosen these groups because of a number of criteria; the foremost being that they have identified the development of women’s leadership and economic opportunities as a priority through programming, research, and/or community activism. The other considerations I took into account are: they have existing relationships amongst themselves, are recognized for being important voices from within the community, have access to the networks of women that I hope to reach, and at this stage of my understanding, represent a somewhat diverse network of users, which will provide my research with access to a potential audience that is non-homogenous in their demographics and life experiences.

I intend to engage in qualitative research that utilizes surveys. I also intend to capture the stories of these women's narratives via interviews. Having been recently introduced to the methodology of narrative inquiry, I intend to further investigate this approach.

The focus of my capstone will be significant for these partners as it may potentially identify gaps and opportunities to further support women, their leadership development, and their economic independence. I further anticipate that this information will not only spur further programming, research and community activism opportunities by these groups independently in support of women, but will allow for further purposeful collaboration amongst these potential partners.

In The change process: Why change? (2009) Beckhard and Harris ask the reader to address the fundamental condition that one is witnessing and ask why there is a need for change (p. 689).

In McKinsey's report on Advancing Women's Equality in Canada (2017) the authors state that by addressing the issue of advancing women's equality,

Canada could add $150 billion in incremental GDP in 2026 or see a 0.6 percent increase of annual GDP growth. That’s 6 percent higher than business-as-usual GDP growth forecasts over the next decade. Put another way, this figure is equivalent to adding a new financial-services sector to the economy. (Devillard et al., 2017)

I believe that according to Beckhard and Harris’ work, this is still just a symptom (p. 698).

Most compelling is the fundamental reason as to why this is an important focus and realm for change, which is because accelerating women's equality in Canada is a "moral and social imperative," (Devillard et al., 2017).

The strengths that I will bring to this work and to my collaboration partners is the almost 20 years of experience I have in stakeholder engagement in professional settings; this is also a strong element of my current work. I look forward to furthering my best practices with an intentional systems change lens, and utilizing many of the tools shared by Stroh in Systems Thinking for Social Change for this work.

Beyond my expertise in facilitation and engagement, I bring an ability to see the intersection of experiences and bring those to the forefront for consideration. Lastly, I bring an awareness of my existing bias and leading hypothesis, which will ensure that I bring a critical lens to my assumptions, and to test them vigorously.

Photo by   Edu Lauton   on   Unsplash

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

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Why You’re Here

If you’re here, it’s likely because we’ve met and started this discussion, or have been introduced by a trusted connection.

Why You Should Work With Me

I am driven by the desire to leave a positive, purposeful, meaningful impact on my community, the women of this community, and their respective communities. #whenweallwinweallwin

Why This Work Matters To Me

This work was originally submitted as part 1 of 3 of my self-directed studies. It has been edited for clarity and relevance. The blogs referenced in this video can be viewed here and here.


Beckhard, R. & Harris, R. T. (2009). The change process: Why change? In W. W. Burke, D. G. Lake, & J. W. Paine (Eds.), Organization change: A comprehensive reader (pp.687–698). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. [iOS Kindle edition]

Devillard, S., Hunt, V., & Yee, L. (2018). Still looking for room at the top: Ten years of research on women in the workplace. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from McKinsey & Company Featured Insights website: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/still-looking-for-room-at-the-top-ten-years-of-research-on-women-in-the-workplace

Devillard, S., Vogel, T., Pickersgill, A., Madgavkar, A., Nowski, T., Krishnan, M., Pan, T., Kechrid, D. (2017). The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in Canada. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from McKinsey & Company Featured Insights website:  https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/the-power-of-parity-advancing-womens-equality-in-canada

Stroh, D.P. (2015). Systems thinking for social change. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green. [iOS edition]