OuR Speakers

QFCE Divergence Conference Speakers 2019


Alicia Sullivan - Senior associate catalyst

Alicia works with leaders and professionals of leading companies and firms across Canada to support their efforts to remove barriers, drive culture change and advance all women, including diverse women, into leadership. Alicia is the Chair of the Evaluation Committee for the Catalyst Canada Honours, a recognition program which honours role models of gender diversity in corporate Canada. She is also a passionate speaker on multiple issues of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Prior to joining Catalyst, Alicia worked internationally as a senior policy analyst with a public agency where she oversaw the National Survey of Living Conditions. The results of this survey informed government policies and programs on poverty reduction, health, education, housing and social protection and aligned with the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

Being an example of a female who has used education as a vehicle to transform her life, Alicia’s vision is a world where every child is educated to become empowered and self-determining. She pays it forward by volunteering as a board member of a non-profit organization, Backpack Project, which provides children in the Caribbean with basic school supplies.  

Alicia earned an LL.B. from the University of London. She holds an MSc. in Sociology and a BSc.in Psychology and Sociology (Double Major) with First Class Honours from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica.


ChanÈle Mcfarlane - founder & editor-in-chief do well dress well

Chanèle McFarlane is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Do Well Dress Well, a career lifestyle website for women. The site provides valuable content on topics such as personal branding, networking, conferences, style and career development. Chanèle also leads Confidence Through Conferences, a non-profit initiative created to get more diverse women into conferences and networking events by minimizing the financial and confidence barrier.

Committed to advancing women through professional development, she sits on the advisory board for Young Women in Business - Toronto and is also a member of Humber College's Professional Advisory Committee for their Content Strategy program. Chanele has spoken for organizations such as Royal Bank of Canada, City of Toronto and Humber College - and has also been featured and quoted in outlets such as Forbes, CBC Toronto, Bay St. Bull, Bustle and Refinery29. A passionate writer, speaker and professional development strategist, Chanèle is humbled to have been recognized as one of PR in Canada’s Top 30 Under 30, one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada and one of the Top 25 Women of Influence. 

Social Media:

Instagram: @chanelemcfarlane & @dowelldresswell

Facebook: Do Well Dress Well

Twitter: @chanelemcf & @dowelldresswell 


Fotini Iconomopoulos - “the negotiator”

Nicknamed “the negotiator” since childhood, Fotini Iconomopoulos is an expert communicator with a passion for helping organizations and individuals get what they want. For the last decade, she has been helping Fortune 500 clients and audiences to achieve their business goals, increase profitability, and create a competitive advantage. She thrives on empowering people to navigate through high-stake scenarios, and always leaves her audiences with tangible actions to immediately help them tackle their next challenge.

After a decade of owning and managing small businesses in the retail sector, Fotini refined her negotiation skills in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry before moving into consulting. Through her company Forward Focusing, she helps clients across the globe achieve their commercial objectives through strategic forward thinking, and has worked with CPG, retail, professional services, energy, telecommunications, tech, and finance industries.

When she’s not strategizing with clients, Fotini is a sought-after speaker on negotiation, communication, leadership and conflict management, and is passionate about helping people, particularly women and disadvantaged groups, develop the confidence to take on whatever challenges come their way. She is also a frequent guest on CBC and CTV and an adjunct professor of MBA Negotiations at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. Fotini was recently recognized with a Greek America Foundation Top 40 under 40 award for her achievements and philanthropic work.

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Hazel Claxton - Former evp & Chief hr officer, morneau shepell inc. 

Hazel retired in 2018 from Morneau Shepell where she was Executive Vice President and Chief HR Officer, responsible for the people strategy that fueled the business strategy. Prior to joining Morneau Shepell in 2013, Hazel spent more than 25 years at PwC.  There, she held a wide variety of leadership roles including Canadian Leadership Group member, Human Capital Leader, Lead Relationship Partner for priority clients, Corporate Advisory and Restructuring Group Partner, and Chair of PwC’s Women in Leadership initiative.

 Hazel currently sits on the boards of Queen's University and the Unity Health Toronto Network created by the amalgamation of St. Michael's Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital and Providence Health Care in Toronto.  Previously, she was on the board of The Shaw Festival Theatre where she chaired the Finance and Audit Committee.  Hazel is also active in the community, as a mentor to young leaders and as a speaker.  She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree from Queen’s University and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA). 

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Jeanelle Dundas is Associate Legal Counsel at Shopify, prior to which she was a lawyer at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Montreal. She completed her articles at the National Judicial Institute in Ottawa and is a member of both the Law Society of Ontario and the Barreau du Québec. Before law school, Jeanelle worked as a Policy Advisor on Parliament Hill, and was a Jaimie Anderson Parliamentary Intern for the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc.

She received her common and civil law degrees from McGill University, where she was a Senior Managing Editor for the McGill Journal of Law and Health, a member of the Educational Equity Advisory Group, a volunteer for the Legal Information Clinic and an actor with Actus Reus, the Faculty’s student theatre troupe. Jeanelle also worked as a research assistant during her time at McGill, where she had a particular focus on constitutional law. In her final year at McGill, she published a paper in the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law which discussing electoral reform in Canada.

Jeanelle graduated from Queen’s in 2013, where she received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Studies, with a minor in Economics. At Queen’s, she was President of the Queen’s University Policy Association, a Model Parliament delegate and a member of The Caledonias.

A music lover, Jeanelle completed her studies in piano and voice with the Royal Conservatory of Music and participated in a vocal jazz residency at Stanford Jazz in California.


Jen McNeely - Founder Shedoesthecity

Jen McNeely is the founder of Shedoesthecity, an online publication and real-life community dedicated to sharing the stories, projects and accomplishments of Canadian women, and connecting one another through creative events and thought-provoking culture. Before launching Shedoesthecity in 2007, Jen worked in publicity and marketing at MuchMusic, Alliance Films and CBC Television. She has also written for Toronto LifeFASHION MagazineNOW and The Globe and Mail.

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Senator Kim Pate

Kim Pate was appointed to the Senate of Canada on November 10, 2016. First and foremost, the mother of Michael and Madison, she is also a nationally renowned advocate who has spent the last 35 years working in and around the legal and penal systems of Canada, with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized — particularly imprisoned youth, men and women.

Senator Pate graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1984 with honours in the Clinical Law Programme. She was the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) from January 1992 until her appointment to the Senate in November 2016. She has developed and taught Prison Law, Human Rights and Social Justice and Defending Battered Women on Trial courses at the Faculties of Law at the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University and the University of Saskatchewan. She also occupied the Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 2014 and 2015.

Kim Pate is widely credited as the driving force behind the Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, headed by Justice Louise Arbour. During the Inquiry, she supported women as they aired their experiences and was a critical resource and witness in the Inquiry itself.

Senator Pate is a member of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Canadian Bar Association’s Bertha Wilson Touchstone Award, and five honourary doctorates (Law Society of Upper Canada, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, St. Thomas University and Wilfred Laurier University).


Lara el Shawa - VP, Programs and  Philanthropy Young Women in Business

Lara is a social sector professional experienced in youth programs, entrepreneurship, economic development, international development, and social sector management. She is a big promoter of "Intrapreneurship" and thinks that  "intrapreneurship" is underestimated especially in the social sector. As Young Women in Business' VP of Programs and Philanthropy, she develops and implements entrepreneurship and mentorship programs to help young women achieve success on their own terms. As the Founder and Managing Director of 'Nurturing Tanmiya,' Lara works with socially conscious entrepreneurs and small NGOs on the outcomes and impact of their endeavors. Lara holds an MSc Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) - University of London, and a Master First Level in Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention from the University of Bologna Italy.

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Magdalyn Asimakis is an independent curator and writer based in Toronto, and a PhD student in the Art History Department at Queen’s University. She was previously a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, and recently completed a research practicum at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 20th Century Drawings and Prints. In 2018, she co-founded the art space ma ma in Toronto, where she co-organized video and new media exhibitions, as well as artist talks, workshops, and reading groups. Her writing has appeared in art magazines and museum catalogues, and she is a contributing critic to the Brooklyn Rail.


Queen’s Collage Collective (QCC)

Queen's inclusive arts club aimed at bettering mental health and tackling anti-oppressive conversation through collage making️‍🏾

Social Media

Instagram & Facebook: @queenscollagecollectives


Ramona gallagher-Senior business consultant

Ramona is a serial entrepreneur who has owned a number of her own successful businesses and who has coached and mentored over 1,000 entrepreneurs in starting or growing their own businesses.  She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University and has worked in a variety of industries and businesses in Canada and abroad. She is a published author and speaker and is considered a subject matter expert in working with clients with disabilities and those with limited start-up resources.

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Ruth Fernandez, MA, is a Change Management strategist and scholar known for her ability to inspire and motivate teams. As a change manager, Ruth focuses on creating and implementing strategies to enable and empower employees to adopt new behaviors and new technologies. She completed a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism at Ryerson University, and her Masters Degree in Professional Communications at Royal Roads University. 

Her research has examined how technology firms leverage advertising to attract teen girls to STEM careers by examining the content of ads for underlying meaning. Her study uncovered the counterproductive patriarchal discourses hidden in the ads and its potential damaging consequences. Dedicated to the mentoring of girls, Ruth is an active member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization in Montreal. She has been a Big Sister to Jennifer since 1998 and is a board member. She also was responsible for the chapter’s first social media engagement strategy. 

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Yaelle Gang is chair of the Toronto Chapter of Equal Voice and is passionate about encouraging women to get involved in politics at all levels of government. She is currently also the editor of an investment publication for Canadian pension plans. Prior to this, she was a financial communications manager at a provincial agency and has a wealth of experience from her time on Parliament Hill, where she was a policy advisor to the federal minister of state (finance) and worked on two federal budgets. She also served as the legislative assistant to a member of parliament on the finance committee. Yaelle holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University. 


Dr. Yolande Chan -E. Marie Shantz Professor of Information Technology Management, Smith School of Business

A Rhodes Scholar, Dr. Chan's educational background is multifaceted.

She holds a Ph.D. from Ivey Business School, Western University, an M.Phil. in Management Studies from Oxford University, and S.M. and S.B. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the Queen's faculty, Dr. Chan worked with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). A gifted educator, Dr. Chan has received the Commerce Teaching Excellence Award and the Commerce Professor Student Life Award -- awarded to the professor who has contributed most to the student life of the graduating class over their four-year term in the Bachelor of Commerce program.  Currently Dr. Chan teaches PhD/MSc and Commerce courses. Dr. Chan's research focuses on innovation, knowledge strategy, digital strategy, digital capabilities, and business-IT alignment. Dr. Chan's work has been published in numerous academic journals, including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of  Management Information Systems, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Journal of Information Technology, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, and MIS Quarterly Executive. Dr. Chan is entered in the Canadian Who's Who, the Who's Who of Canadian Women, and the Who's Who in Canadian Business Directories.

  • Specialty: Innovation, Knowledge Strategy, IT Strategy, Strategic Alignment, IT Impacts on Business Performance


Zabrina Hossain -product lead shopify

Zabrina is a Product Lead at Shopify, where she spends her time on the Multi-Channel Team focusing on product partnerships including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Amazon to create new commerce experiences.  Previously, Zabrina was at Snap and Bitstrips in Toronto and also spent time working on messaging applications in Amsterdam. She is passionate about supporting women in their journeys in tech and entrepreneurship. You might catch her on her way to the latest tech meet-up in Toronto while on her bright yellow bike.