Top 25 Women of Influence 2017: Arlene Dickinson

 

 

Arlene Dickinson

CEO of Venture Communications and District Ventures

Arlene Dickinson earned her fortune through her marketing agency, Venture Communications, but it is her foray into venture capitalism that is her latest success. A Canadian household name thanks to her role on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, Arlene took a two-year pause from the show to launch District Ventures, a fund and accelerator focused on early-stage food and health businesses. In 2017, the Calgary-based venture fund reached a major milestone, surpassing its $25 million goal in raised capital. Arlene is returning to the Den this fall — with plenty of money to spend.

 


 

Who else are we honouring? See the full Women of Influence Top 25 list for 2017.

 

 

Top 25 Women of Influence 2017: Palbinder K Shergill

 

 

Palbinder K Shergill

Justice to the Supreme Court of British Columbia

Palbinder Kaur Shergill started the year an accomplished woman. She was a trial lawyer with her own firm in Surrey. An advisory board member of the Sikh Feminist Research Institute. And she had spent over 25 years providing pro bono legal counsel to the World Sikh Organization (WSO) of Canada, her work lauded as “instrumental in helping shape human rights and religious accommodation law in Canada.” So said the federal government news release, announcing her appointment to the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster in June. It made Palbinder the first female turbaned judge in Canada — and an inspiration to Sikh’s across the country.

 


 

Who else are we honouring? See the full Women of Influence Top 25 list for 2017.

 

 

Top 25 Women of Influence 2017: Margaret Atwood

 

 

Margaret Atwood

Novelist, Poet, Essayist

Already a Canadian icon and an internationally recognized novelist, Margaret Atwood made another big splash on the world stage in 2017 with the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Her bestselling 1985 dystopian novel featuring an American theocratic dictatorship was given a modern reboot — with Atwood herself involved in the production. It has drawn comparisons to today’s reality; the Handmaid’s iconic red modesty costumes have popped up in protests in the U.S., and in a New York Times Op-Ed, Atwood reflected on what The Handmaid’s Tale means in the age of Trump. For many, it’s a warning sign of where things could be headed, and hopefully, a way to ensure that they don’t.

 


 

Who else are we honouring? See the full Women of Influence Top 25 list for 2017.

 

 

Top 25 Women of Influence 2017: Olivia Nuamah

 

 

Olivia Nuamah

Executive Director, Pride Toronto

Pride Toronto became caught in a storm of unexpected controversy when Black Lives Matter staged a protest at the 2016 Pride Parade. In the aftermath, they saw the departure of most of their staff, including their Executive Director. In February, Olivia Nuamah was brought on to take over the lead role — and tasked with rebuilding the organization, managing turbulent community relations, and organizing a $4 million festival in just a few months. Fortunately, the 45-year-old Toronto native was ready for the challenge. Not only does she have nearly 25 years of experience working in both the non-profit and government sectors, as a black female member of the LGBTQ community, she also has a heightened perspective on the marginalised groups seeking more inclusivity with the Toronto festivities. She successfully led Pride 2017 amid the continued controversy around banning uniformed police participation (which included a heated May debate in city council to pull funding on account of the decision), and for future years, she is committed to putting processes in place that align the reason Pride exists and people’s expectations of it. By establishing trust and building bridges between the many communities that come together for Pride Toronto, Olivia is certainly leading the organization in a bright direction.

 


 

Who else are we honouring? See the full Women of Influence Top 25 list for 2017.

 

 

Top 25 Women of Influence 2017: Huda Idrees

 

 

Huda Idrees

Founder & CEO, Dot Health

Huda Idrees was only 12 when she started her first business, building websites using skills she learned at school in Saudi Arabia. Now 27 and a University of Toronto industrial engineering grad, she has become a tech start-up veteran with several high-profile roles to her credit. Her latest venture, Dot Health, launched in the spring. For a low monthly fee, the service provides individuals with easy online access to all of their disparate patient health records — eliminating a normally tedious and expensive process. It’s tackling a challenging problem that others have tried and failed to solve, but we think this entrepreneurial wunderkind is the right woman for the job.

 


 

Who else are we honouring? See the full Women of Influence Top 25 list for 2017.

 

 

Top 25 Women of Influence 2017: Katherine Hay

 

 

Katherine Hay

President & CEO, Women’s College Hospital Foundation

Kathy Hay leads the team responsible for generating the majority of funding for Women’s College Hospital (WCH) in Toronto. Funds that not only enable WCH to deliver excellent care, but also to conduct groundbreaking research that impacts the health and treatment of women across Canada. Early in the year — largely in thanks to the efforts of Kathy — WCH announced that philanthropist Peter Gilgan and the Canadian Cancer Society would be providing a collaborative $12 million gift to establish The Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers, which will further research, education, and innovation in the field. The vision Kathy is helping to realize: to empower patients and their families by transforming care for women’s cancers nationwide.

 


 

Who else are we honouring? See the full Women of Influence Top 25 list for 2017.