Katie Telford’s Path Into Politics

When she was 12 years old, Katie Telford did a stint as a page at Queen’s Park. It was the first official step on a path towards a political career that has led her to become one of the most powerful women in government, all before the age of forty. As Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister she’s co-leads the PMO, managing the senior staff, attending cabinet and caucus meetings, and acting as a trusted advisor on all matters. One of Trudeau’s top strategists, he has referred to her as the “core of my inner circle” — giving Katie influence that extends across the country, and beyond.

We’ve mapped out her biggest milestones.


1990 – Spends several weeks working as a page in the Ontario legislature, at the time controlled by the NDP and Premier Bob Rae (Katie’s former neighbour, and inspiration for her political aspirations)

2001 – Graduates from the University of Ottawa with a political science degree, and begins work at Queen’s Park on September 11, as a legislative assistant for Liberal MPP Gerard Kennedy.

2004 – Becomes chief of staff to Kennedy, who was appointed Ontario Education Minister after the Liberal win in 2003. One of the youngest to hold the important role, at just 26, Katie was representing the province in labour negotiations with teachers’ unions.

2006– Kennedy resigns to make a bid for the Liberal Party of Canada leadership, with Katie heading his ultimately unsuccessful campaign. A then-unknown Justin Trudeau offered to pledge his support — meeting with Katie at a coffee shop, where the two immediately clicked.

2007 – Continues her work with the official opposition party, under the winner of the Liberal leadership, Stéphane Dion. After a year as policy secretary, director of policy and stakeholder relations, she spends 2008 as his deputy chief of staff.

2009 – Begins work as a senior consultant for StrategyCorp in Toronto, a public affairs, communications, and management consulting advisory firm.

2011 – Katie and her husband, Rob Silver, welcome their son George into the world in June.

2012 – Justin Trudeau announces he’s running for Liberal party leadership on October 2, with Katie heading his campaign. Six months later, he’s officially elected to the position.

2015 – Serves as Trudeau’s campaign co-chair and director during the federal election (the longest in modern Canadian history, at 78 days) and helps him achieve a majority government coming from a third-place position in the House. Katie becomes the 15th Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister — and just the second woman to hold the title — assuming office on November 4

2016 – Katie pitches the idea that leads to the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders — officially announced at the first meeting between Trudeau and Trump.

2017 – Telford asks in a finance meeting if gender analysis had been considered as part of the process of creating the federal budget — leading to Canada’s first-ever Gender Statement in a federal budget.


Allison Grafton: From Banker to Builder

A busy career in finance might not seem ideal for taking on extra-curricular activities, and yet Allison Grafton somehow found the time to manage 12 home builds and renovations while working as an investment banker. The passion that inspired this “hobby” eventually led her to change her path completely, and at the age of 40 she launched Rockwood Custom Homes. Combining her financial know-how with her keen design eye, she’s now leading her residential construction company to the top in the city of Calgary, and beyond — and her journey is far from over.



1974 – At the age of seven, Allison first discovers her interest in design when her parents build a house in Cranbrook, BC.


1975 – Alison starts her first job stocking merchandise and cleaning in her father’s drugstore. By 10, she’s graduated to running the register.


1987 – Meets her husband, Kevin, one year after graduating high school.


1991 – Graduates from the University of British Columbia, and is accepted into a Harvard University program that takes her to Nairobi to study Anthropology and Archaeology, a passion of hers. Two-and-a-half months into her African adventure, she suffers a brain aneurysm — five-days drive from the nearest hospital.


1993 – Recovered from her life-altering brush with death, Allison is working as a pharmaceutical account manager when she’s transferred from her hometown of Vancouver to Calgary.


1994 – Renovates her first home, sparking a new passion that would lead to several more builds and renovations over the next decade.


1998 – Transitions her career into investment banking, focused on the oil and gas industry.


2001 – Allison’s last child, her daughter Abby, is born. Along with a growing growing family, she has a growing career, having fully switched into investment banking.


2009 – Brings on two important members of her team: Darlene Haslam, who worked with her in her banking days as CFO; and Grainger Nimmo, who becomes her partner on her new business venture focused on luxury home building. In September, Rockwood Custom Homes is launched.


2008 – Completes her twelfth home construction project.


2014 – Rockwood creates the opportunity to build a high-end, multi-family community, and sells out within 18 months. Allison makes the top five on PROFIT/Chatelaine Magazine’s W100 Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs list — an accomplishment she’ll repeat in 2015 and 2016.


2015 – Wins the prestigious Momentum Award at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, presented by Women of Influence.


2016 – Opens a new branch of the business, Rockwood Okanagan, and is inducted into the WXN Hall of Fame after making Canada’s Most Powerful Women list four times.


2017 – Breaks ground on the Residences of King Edward, Calgary’s only luxury development located in a master-planned arts and cultural hub.


Marci Ien: a News Icon on a New Path

Most Canadians know Marci Ien from her time on CTV’s Canada AM, where she spent more than a decade as news anchor and ultimately co-host. Few know that Marci made her television debut at the age of 10 — although it would take another 12 years before she made it back on TV, this time as a reporter. She’s currently a guest co-host on The Social, and is continuing her long history of charitable work as a member of the Council of Champions for Children First Canada, dedicated to improving the wellbeing of kids in our country. We’ve mapped out her most important milestones.


1979 – Makes her Canadian television debut at age 10 with the children’s program, Circle Square.


1991 – Graduates with a Radio and Television Arts degree from Ryerson University and begins her career as a news writer and general assignment reporter at CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario.


1995 – Gets into the national spotlight with her reports from Queen’s Park appearing on Canada Tonight. Plus, her news serial, Journey to Freedom — a look at the Underground Railroad, earns her a Radio Television Digital News Association Award.


1997 – Makes the move to CTV News for a full-time national gig, covering major stories like the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia.


2003 – Becomes the news anchor on Canada AM, CTV’s national morning show.


2004 – Marci and her husband, Lloyd Exeter, welcome their daughter Blaize into the world.


2008 – Receives the Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Award in the media category.


2010 – Acts as news anchor for CTV’s Olympic Morning at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.


2011 – After eight years as the news anchor on Canada AM, she moves into the co-host chair. Another big milestone: her son, Dash, is born.


2014 – Granted the Planet Africa Award for excellence in media.


2015 – Earns a Canadian Screen Award nomination in the Best Host category for her work on CTV’s Canada AM.


2016 – Early in the year, her journalistic achievements are honoured with an African Canadian Achievement Award. In June, Canada AM announces its final episode.



Marci Ien kicks off our Spring season with an Evening event on February 28 in Toronto – limited tickets available!

Carrie Kirkman: Fashion’s Fearless Leader

Thirty years ago, Carrie Kirkman left her modeling career and began climbing the ranks on the business side of the fashion industry, eventually leading some of Canada’s biggest brands. Her timeline is undeniably interesting, building Jones Canada to national success with record-breaking sales, only to have the brand dismantled beneath her. Now, she’s taking on one of Canada’s biggest department stores, Sears Canada.

We’ve mapped out three decades of her most impressive milestones.



1985: Leaves modeling to begin a career in the fashion industry at a Montreal based sales agency, repping brands such as Alfred Sung and Ports International. Spends 7 years learning the ropes of the industry, from small independent accounts to large national specialty chains across Eastern Canada.

1996: Has a baby and moves to Toronto.

1997: Joins Liz Claiborne Canada as National Sales Manager/Director of Merchandising for brands such as Liz Claiborne, DKNY, and Kenneth Cole. Manages the wholesale assortment strategy and buys for department and specialty stores across Canada.

2002: Joins Hudson’s Bay to streamline the private and captive brand business. Manages and renegotiates the licensed opportunities and improves the product development processes.

2005: Takes on first role with full profit and loss accountability managing a business unit, accessories, luggage, and hosiery. Introduces new vendor business models, significantly reducing liabilities.

2006: Takes over the women’s apparel business and begins reengineering the strategy, delivering better brands (such as Ralph Lauren) and rebalancing the space to maximize women’s apparel. Delivers the first significant sales growth in women’s apparel in almost a decade.

2009: Joins Zellers as head of newly created “Women’s World.” Delivers a $30 million sales increase in the first 18 months.

2010: Joins Jones New York Canada as president.

Related: Learn how Heather Reisman revolutionized Canada’s book-selling industry through her strategy of reinvention.

2014: Delivers a reengineered growth curve for Jones New York Canada. Plans are exceeded by 40%, with a double-digit comparable store increase in both the direct channel and wholesale accounts.

January 2015: Jones head office decides to shut down the existing worldwide organization.

August 2015: Becomes interim president of Nine West. Leads the organization through the transition and acquisition from a licensee model to a corporate divisional of the US Nine West Holdings.

November 2015: Accepts role of president and chief merchant Sears Canada.


A version of this appears in print in our Spring 2016 Women of Influence Magazine, Page 17. 

Heather Reisman: A Timeline of Reinvention

Her name is easily recognizable by the Canadian public from her popular “Heather’s Picks.” To the business world, Heather Reisman, Chair and CEO of Indigo Books, is not just the face of the company’s reading shortlists—she’s revolutionized the country’s bookselling industry. Heather has worked diligently and strategically, constantly evolving her entrepreneurial career, and her business, to ensure success. We’ve mapped out 45 years of her most impressive milestones.

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