Colleen Tsikira is a mother, wife, community advocate, startup / business investor, owner of several businesses and a Real Estate Investor. Growing up surrounded by entrepreneurs, it was no surprise Mrs Tsikira chose this path. When asked in a job interview once, “Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?” Her response was, “On the other side of this desk.”
Her ambition and talent to spot opportunities has made Mrs. Tsikira the success she is today. From tripling her businesses income to over 6 figures in under a year, building her Multimillion Dollar Real Estate portfolio in her mid-20’s and doubling her clients’ profits in her coaching business, Mrs. Tsikira is the perfect example of how girls run the world!
Colleen is currently an Associate Director in the Toronto District School Board with responsibility for the following portfolios: Equity, Early Years, Well-being, Schools and School Improvement. Throughout her career, Colleen has held a firm belief that education is one of the most important tools required to change lives. In particular, she has been a dedicated advocate for children’s early literacy development. Perhaps this passion emanated from the love of reading fostered by her mother, Delacy and her early teaching and leadership experiences in North York and Scarborough. Colleen quickly learned that there were systemic barriers faced by underserved students which often stalled their literacy development. She set out to dismantle the system by ensuring children had the ability to read and write, in order to give voice to their ideas. Her commitment to literacy led Colleen to volunteer as tutor of both children and adults. Principal and Teacher, Colleen mentored and taught other educators in Toronto and the United States, in effective and culturally responsive reading practices.
Collette Murray is a Toronto-born dance educator, performer and cultural arts programmer. She is a dedicated dance artist whose critical and creative work span over 25 years in Ontario. Her vision evolved to use leadership and innovative ways to highlight the contributions and social significance of African diasporic knowledge.
Her community arts engagement is in a socially-engaged way and through social entrepreneurship. She later developed Miss Coco Murray, a mobile, dance education business, offering cultural arts services rooted from the African and Caribbean diaspora, that are inaccessible across sectors. She is the Artistic Director of Coco Collective, an intergenerational and multidisciplinary arts team of musicians and artists where she designs and implements innovative, culturally relevant programs for children, youth and adults.
Cynthia holds a Diploma in Business Administration and two Event Designing Certifications. She is the owner of Dash Event Designs and Rentals and Co-Owner of Best Movers which she owns with her husband Randy. Best Movers is a relocation company that connects the North to the rest of Canada.
In 2018 Cynthia was elected to serve the residents of Yellowknife as the First Black City Councillor for the City of Yellowknife as well as being the First Elected black person in the Northwest Territories.
Cynthia also sits as a Board of Directors for the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation where she is passionate about the Foundation’s cause and is always excited to give back to the community and the North.
Born in a modest and militant Haitian family, Darlène Lozis was introduced early to social activism through the influence of a philanthropic mother who intervened regularly in favor of needy and abused children. These activities, although kept personal, have shaped her future professional and relational choices. Darlène works at the Public Service Alliance of Canada, as the national coordinator of oppression prevention. She lives with her family in the National Capital Region.
Her own activism, as a young adult, began consciously in Port-au-Prince, Haiti around 1997, with « les servantes de Dieu » (the maidservants of God), an organization whose goal was to guide and support street children (girls and boys) aged between 6 and 17 years old. Although she held no firm religious beliefs at the time, Darlène embraced this opportunity to help disadvantaged youths in her native city. Upon her return to Ottawa, Darlène volunteered her services with several local and national organizations: CALACS, Centraide Outaouais, Jaku Konbit and Canada Haiti Action Network, among others, while remaining connected to international organizations that work for human rights (Haiti, Venezuela, El Salvador).
Deanne Michelle A. Smith was born in Kingston Jamaica and migrated to Montréal, Canada a year after completing Wolmers’ Girls High School. She then attended and graduated on the honour roll from Dawson College/CEGEP. This made her quite elated as she was the first amongst her cousins’ generation to attend an institution of higher learning.
There were times when she doubted herself as she was now living in a new country, a new society, a new school system and a new way of being socially engaged. However, Deanne thrived and blossomed as she grew to feel that it was in this very arena of academia that she could excel, share ideas, collaborate on projects and grow intellectually.
So, she continued her studies at Concordia University, Seneca College and George Brown College. These were all places that she found support, solace and at times the necessary challenges needed for her continued growth.
She had found her footing in her new home KANATA (Canada)…
Slowly, the drive to HURRY and complete her studies and return to Jamaica started to dissipate as she regained her sense of purpose in Canada and life; she also remembered one of her maternal grandmother’s sayings: “When in Rome; do as the Romans do”. Those words served as encouragement for her to step out of her comfort zone and become a more actively engaged Canadian citizen.
Deanne currently works for Bell Canada and has completed her 20th year. She has mentored young Black youth through an after school programs and ‘Girls in Trades’ a program co-sponsored by the YWCA. She was one of the background co-founders of Black Queer Youth (BQY), an organization that supports Black queer youth in Toronto and had been part of BLOCK-O-RAMA, a group that offers an alternative space and activities for Black families and their allies, during PRIDE.
Donna Wellington was born in Windsor, ON, Canada. Her parents are Jamaican and immigrated to Canada. Her mother taught her the importance of hard work, education, and achievement; also not to expect handouts but to outperform her peers in order to overcome the societal disadvantages of being female, a visible minority, and the child of immigrant parents. She took this to heart and excelled in school, athletics and her career.
She graduated from W.F. Herman Secondary School, earned her Bachelor of Science, Nursing (BSN,) and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Windsor, 2004.
Donna began working at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit in 1996. She has held numerous roles, starting as a registered nurse in the Ambulatory clinic to Vice President of Operations for Henry Ford’s flagship 800+ bed hospital to her current role as Chief Operating Officer of the Henry Ford Behavioural Health Services division.
Donna has 20+ years’ health care experience and recognized as an effective leader in complex, high-stake situations in Healthcare. She has led in all aspects of health care delivery including Primary Care, Pediatrics, Urology, Women’s Health, Dermatology, Inpatient and Outpatient Nursing and Behavioural Health.
Dr. Butler is a member of the Social Program Evaluation Group (SPEG) at Queen’s University. She is currently working on a 2018-2021 program evaluation for the Ontario wide Youth Job Connections/Youth Job Connections Summer program. The evaluation includes a combination of both qualitative data from interviews and quantitative data analysis of surveys administered to over 2,000 youth. In addition, Dr. Butler is a co-evaluator for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services 2018-2020 program evaluation of Innovative Supports for Black Parents with Turner Consulting.
In October 2017, she was awarded a grant from the Ministry of Education’s Parents Reaching Out program to conduct focus group research for immigrant parents in low-income GTA communities. From 2016-2017, Dr. Butler was part of a program evaluation team in the School of Nutrition at Ryerson University for Rainbow Plate. Rainbow Plate is a nutritional intervention program for children and youth in Toronto to promote healthy eating.
Dr. Eugenia Duodu is a scientist, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) advocate, speaker and community builder. She attended the University of Toronto where she earned an HBSc in Chemistry and Biology (2010) and a PhD in Chemistry (2015). She is also a graduate from Harvard Business School Executive Education with a focus on Strategic Perspective in the Non-Profit Management (SPNM)
During her PhD, she coordinated week-end science clubs for Grade 4-8 children living in TCH developments and was a member the VoSNL Board of Directors.
Dr. June Marion James, O.M, Hon. Dip (RRC) BSc, BSc (med), M.D. FRCPC, FAAAAI, born In Trinidad and Tobago came to Canada in 1960 for university studies in Manitoba, with a career goal of Medicine. She completed her Bachelor Degree of Science in 3 years, and was accepted to Medical schools in the United States and Canada. In addition to cost, June learnt that she would be breaking new ground by being the first woman of color admitted at the University of Manitoba School of Medicine, so she made the decision to remain in Winnipeg.
Following her graduation in 1967, Dr. James did her residency training in Paediatrics, then became a Paediatric Fellow in Hematology /Oncology. At that time, chemotherapy options for children were limited for Blood Cancer and clinical outcomes were poor. An immunoglobulin discovered almost simultaneously in Japan and Sweden named Immunoglobulin E (IGE) was now found to play a pivotal role in Allergy and Asthma. She changed to this new medical sub-speciality entering in 1972 as a Clinical Fellow.